This composition of whiskies, blended carefully to form an imposing figure of a dram, this monster, bears some resemblance to the powerful creation of another famous mastermind. The similarities end there, however, as this man-made mélange meets with much more acceptance and understanding (not to mention merriment and mirth), proudly proclaims itself a monster, and (thankfully) does not have bolts in its neck. Nonetheless, this monster of a dram turns out to be just as transformative for the drinker as ol’ Frank’s own experiences were for him: “… I shall relate events that impressed me with feelings which, from what I had been, have made me what I am.”
The color is deceptively light and clear, as if someone had diluted a mere drop of whisky in water, but then there’s huge, briny smoke on the nose, like cigars rolled in seaweed and smoked in an old tobacco shop…that features ashtrays carved from solid bricks of peat…and that happens to have a guy splayed out in the middle of the floor, being administered heroic amounts of iodine in hopes of sterilizing a deep cut in his leg. Speaking of legs, hold the glass up to the light, and you’ll see this dram has more legs than the floor of a Civil War battlefield surgery (given the opening theme, I wasn’t about to abandon the macabre here). On the mouth, it’s pure, liquefied peat, then wood, wood, wood: for a moment before the finish, it’s like a dish from the Moosewood Cookbook… for Beavers. And then there’s a blast of heat on the finish, like a hiccup from a baby dragon. But the heat brings with it a surge of ecstasy, much like one would imagine a vampire feels biting into a coniferous nymph. Overall, the effect is remarkable: the Peat Monster nearly perfectly distills out the essence of Islay, and in the end it transforms your mouth into a pleasure dome. This is decidedly not the nature-defying product of a megalomaniac, but it is no less a work of genius.
On the scale of the best of the worst of the many ripped-off Frankenstein characters—
The Compass Box Peat Monster is Herman Munster—you have to give it up for Fred Gwynne, whose last screen role was the Yale-educated southern gentleman Judge Chamberlain Haller in My Cousin Vinny. And that movie gave a surprise Oscar for Marisa Tomei, and loosed Joe Pesci, comedian, upon an unsuspecting world.
—Thanks to Robin Robinson for the sample–and John Glaser for putting this creature together!