I'm a big whisky fan, but I have to admit that when it comes to peated Scotch, I'm a novice. Drinking something as smoky as Laphroaig for me is a bit of a chore. While I've come around to mezcal, even though I can usually taste that smokiness the next day, I'm slowly working my way to the "hard stuff."
That's why I'm looking forward to the Los Angeles Scotch Club's Peatin' Meetin' VI taking place August 9 in Pasadena, California at the Brookside Golf Course at the Rose Bowl. Peatin' Meetin' is the world's largest festival celebrating peated whiskies.
Smoky Scotch fans can expect a "festival-like atmosphere" says LA Scotch Club co-founder Andrew Smith. There will be cocktail stations serving drinks made with famous Islay scotches; locally brewed crafted peated beer on tap; as well as 80 whiskies to taste via quarter ounce shots; live bands playing up-tempo Celtic rock; a cigar lounge; and peated Tri-tip barbecue chicken and sides.
"No one in America smokes peat and we found a good barbecue guy, and he's been practicing for a year," says Smith.
Just in case you're not in the know, peat is boggy soil made from vegetation that has only partially decomposed over thousands of years, and the Scottish and Irish burn it in the same manner as coal. Peat's unique smoke flavors the barley used to make the whiskies featured at Peatin' Meetin'.
What sparked my interest and apprehension, to tell the truth, is that there will be smokier Scotches than the aforementioned Laphroaig.
"There'll be plenty peatier than Laphroaig," Smith points out. "We'll have Octomore, which is the peatiest in the world."
I can't imagine how that will taste. I think I may break into a coughing fit or fall in love with a new found Scotch pal. Indeed peated whiskies can taste smoky, ashy, earthy or herbal.
The LA Scotch Club started as a way for two friends to drink Scotch and has only grown ever since.
"Basically we wanted to try a lot of scotches," Smith recalls. "It's really about expense, we started the club to split costs but it's also a social club -- it's friends drinking scotch together and saving money."
Before the forming of the Scotch club, Smith says he had tried 80 single malts and that figure is now well over 2,000 scotches.
And the club's Peatin' Meatin' annual event, which originally started at Smith's house before moving to UCLA and now the Rose Bowl, is the highlight of their year.
"People have commented they have the most fun they have all year," Smith says of the event.
Whether it's just drinking great Scotch for four hours, meeting like-minded enthusiasts, or discovering a newfound brand of whisky, this sounds like the making of a boozy good time.
"I hope people have fun," Smith says. "A lot of events are commercial events and their purpose is for someone to buy a product. This is us enjoying whisky. We're not selling anything. I want people to have fun and enjoy the moment."
Peatin' Meatin' VI takes place August 9 starting at 5:30pm at Brookside Golf Course at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, located at 1133 Rosemont Ave.