Cutting peat is something that goes back a long time on Islay and the peat is used for heating homes and, of course, during the production of whisky. When the peat is burnt and the smoke gets into the malted barley to stop the germination. During this process particals (phenols) from the peat smoke are absorbed by the barley and this will influence the taste of the whisky. There are a lot of other ingredients/processes that help to create the unique taste of Single Malt Whisky such as the shape of the stills, the distillation, the condensor, the amount of phenols etc etc. For a good, if not the best, explanation I can highly recommend the book Peat Smoke and Spirit.
Now all this peat has to be cut but nowadays this is for the larger part taken over by machines.To share this tradition Rachel runs peat cutting workshops to let people experience for themselves what it is to cut peat. In spring I was invited by Rachel MacNeill from Wild and Magic Islay for a peat cutting workshop and it was great! It's good fun and a great way to spend a morning on the island as you can see in the video below. Enjoy!