Telling the darker story of Scots malt

Peatreekers aims to shine light on centuries-old tale of illicit whisky

Peatreekers pays homage to the illicit whisky producers of 18th century Scotland.
Peatreekers pays homage to the illicit whisky producers of 18th century Scotland.

A WHISKY which pays tribute to some of Scotland’s 18th century illicit distillers has been released into the on-trade.

The ‘peatreekers’, who are reputed to have defied Royal decree in the 1700s to produce illegal whisky via illicit stills in secluded woodland and hills, were careful to avoid raising suspicion – with the only indication of their presence said to be the blackening of nearby trees.

Inspired by these whisky ‘rebels’, as well as the blackened trees, the Peatreekers brand aims to emulate the qualities of these illicit whisky producers.

The first release, Peatreekers Double Standard, is said to be a nod to those “who chose to operate the double standard and unwittingly helped the whisky industry mature into what it is today”.

Bottled at 40% ABV, the Islay blended malt has an antique brass colour and is described as containing a “nose of wood shavings, fresh honeysuckle, leather and salty smoke”, which gives way to a palate of “sweet peat smoke, vanilla pods and chocolate digestive biscuits”, with a long, warming peat smoke finish.

Founder Calum Leslie, a law graduate who set up a whisky subscription company before going on to launch the Peatreekers brand, told SLTN that the eventual aim is to build a portfolio of blended malts which “showcase the darker side of whisky”.

Having launched Double Standard in November last year, Leslie said a recent tasting event at the Swan Inn in Eaglesham (a stockist of Peatreekers) on Burns Night was “great fun”, and afforded him the opportunity to tell the story behind the brand.

Beyond the Swan Inn, Peatreekers Double Standard is currently stocked in Edinburgh venues Tigerlily and Rabble, as well as various wholesalers and retailers, including Inverarity Morton, Master of Malt, Good Spirits Co and the Whisky Exchange.

Eyeing further growth, Leslie said the focus this year is on establishing the brand across the country.

“We have a focus on Scotland right now and want to build new and existing relationships,” he said.

“We will release a limited edition bottling of Double Standard later in the year and hope to have a series of releases next year and beyond.

“Then, internationalisation, but we’re not there yet.”