Review: Meikle Toir Whiskies, Complete Lineup

Review: Meikle Toir Whiskies, Complete Lineup

While Islay remains the primary region for peated whisky in Scotland, more and more mainland distilleries are adding smoky offerings to their portfolio. Billy Walker is no stranger to the concept of peated Speyside malts, as his two previous distilleries, Benriach and GlenDronach, both produced the style, albeit sparingly. It’s no surprise then that his current operation at GlenAllachie is doing the same.

Meikle Toir, Billy’s newest line of peated creations, is Gaelic for “Big Pursuit.” The name seems fitting. At the end of 2023, his distillery released not one but four different peated single malts under the new label, all drawn from the first peated distillate to come off GlenAllachie’s stills since the 1960s. Each offering is made with mainland peat from St. Fergus and relies on exceptionally long fermentation times (up to 160 hours!). Each is also aged five years with cask type being the biggest differentiator (with the exception of the doubly peaty The Turbo). We received wee samples of the whole lineup and can confidently report that Billy’s latest whisky pursuit has been worthwhile.

Meikle Toir The Original – Aged in a combination of first-fill bourbon, virgin American oak, and rye whiskey casks. Meaty on the nose with a thick aroma of grilled beef, wood smoke, and burnt sugar. The smoke unfolds extravagantly as it opens with more BBQ burnt ends, roasted nuts, charred dark bread, and a hint of licorice. The palate is surprisingly sugary with a round, syrupy texture and notes of baked apple, green melon, and a gentle baking spice. The smoke is laced throughout but subdued with notes of ash and brine hidden amid gingerbread and vanilla custard on the midpalate and dissolving to soft mesquite on a warm, lemony finish. 100 proof. A- / $75 [BUY IT NOW FROM RESERVEBAR]

Meikle Toir The Sherry One – Aged in a mix of oloroso and Pedro Ximenez sherry puncheons. The nose is dusty and dark with baking cocoa and fresh brewed coffee. A lift of citrus – blood orange and eventually sticky marmalade – arrives with time in the glass, but it never gets much beyond those dark roasted notes, all of which are accentuated by smoldering smoke and mild incense. The palate starts out lush with dark berries and treacle but dries out a little on the midpalate with notes of char and walnut skins before settling into a warm balance on a generous finish of fig jam, silky milk chocolate, and candied orange peel. 96 proof. A / $75

Meikle Toir The Chinquapin One – Aged in Chinquapin virgin oak barrels sourced from the Northern Ozark region of Missouri. The nose here is straightforward and the closest to Islay peat of the bunch with soft, ashy smoke, lemon peel, a bit of furniture polish, and warm wood-driven undertones of cigar box and sawdust. The palate is light and honeyed with an initial smack of red licorice that shifts to marzipan and fresh pie spice before a gentle finish of coffee bean, pipe smoke, and a hint of lavender. More subtle than the rest of the lineup but not without its charms. 96 proof. B+ / $75

Meikle Toir The Turbo 2023 Edition – While the three Meikle Toir offerings above have a modest phenol content of 35 ppm, this vintage edition has been drawn from a more phenol-heavy heart cut making 71 ppm and is aged in a mix of three virgin American oak casks and five oloroso hogsheads. While I wouldn’t say the aroma is twice as peaty as the rest of the lineup, it’s certainly smokier and more rustic with notes of creosote, coal briquets, saddle leather, and a subtle, torched sugar sweetness. As it opens, cured meat and a bit of flamed orange peel develop. The palate is lush but even more peat-driven with notes of matchheads, licorice, and dark pumpernickel bread. Chai spice and vanilla bean on the midpalate offer a sweeter counterbalance to darker notes of char and cocoa before fading into a luxurious finish of toasted ginger, persimmon, and treacle. Peatheads should seek this out. 100 proof. A / $75

Meikle Toir The Original




Drew Beard is assistant editor for Drinkhacker and winner of several booze-related merit badges, including Certified Specialist in Spirits and Executive Bourbon Steward. A former federal employee turned hotelier and spirits journalist, he looks forward to his next midlife crisis.

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