We commonly hear that one of the differences between Scotch & bourbon is that Scotch tastes smoky because it is made from peated malt. Let us take a closer look at this generalization. Of the roughly one hundred distilleries in Scotland, only fifteen use peated malt. Island distilleries, especially on Islay, have traditionally been using peat. But on the Scottish mainland, most whisky is produced with unpeated malt & the number is only rising because more mainland distilleries are experimenting with different whisky styles.
The reason behind this misconception lies in the fact that decades ago, distilleries used peat to dry their malted barley because it simply was the cheapest fuel available.
The smoky Scotch myth still persists today because most Scotch whisky consumed today is blended from whiskies of many distilleries. Smoke is just one of the aspects of Scotch Whiskies. Unless you of course, talk about Ardbeg, Laphroaig or Lagavulin.