Smokehead is a brand owned by Ian Macleod Distillers and everything you need to know about this dram is in the name.
It hails from the beautiful isle of Islay and captures both the rugged coastal surroundings, as well as the regions’ renowned peated characteristics.
The brand propels Whisky in the 21st century, with a fresh feel and eye-capturing look. Its stark black and gold label stands out against the typical mundane Whisky packaging.
Their latest, modern look and feel seeks to simplify their iconic packaging whilst still jumping out from the crowd with their iconic, and rather menacing skull logo. But don’t be fooled, this is not a whisky that will beat you around the face, quite the opposite; it embodies smoky Whisky almost literally and represents the peated power you’ll experience once you get into the bottle, all wrapped in a. mellow, sweet finish. I’ve jumped ahead…
Described as “the wild one of single malt whisky”, Smokehead is confident, it is proud and my word is it free-spirited in just about every way; from how it communicates to how it is packaged and how it acts. An Islay single malt for the modern world that shrugs off questions about its exact origin in favour of just delivering on being something really interesting and bold.
My first bottle of Smokehead Islay Single Malt whisky was bought many moons ago for me to enjoy with one of my closest friends, Martin “Mr. Pleasure” Azor, and we ended up getting through one or two bottles of this fine whisky over the following couple of years, as I have with my father-in-law too in recent years. It is one of my go-to whiskies, and one that I cannot quite believe I have not reviewed properly on GreatDrams before.
As you all know, Islay is an island well known for it’s peated and seaside flavours and if you were every looking for a definitive example what that would taste like then Smokehead could indeed be your go to dram.
The nose hits you like smoke from a bonfire. It is thick and fuzzy, with a wonderful citrusy flavour underneath.
Lemon and ginger pop-out under the dull tang of the peat and grab your attention, giving this expression a nice depth and fullness.
The smoke curls around some oak wood tones and the charred condition of the barrels is more than obvious. Again, this only serves to give definition and depth to the rich peat.
These flavours are joined on the palate by hints of sherry and ripe orchard fruit. Imagine caramel covered apples with a dusting of cinnamon and enjoyed beside a beach fire. That is the essence of Smokehead.
The peat is strong and completely unavoidable but allows for the sweet and spicy tones to make an appearance. It also gives a delicate warmth to the mouthfeel
The citrus and ginger flavours give a nice edge to the palate and are mixed with a handful of dried fruits. These go along perfectly with the sweet sherry flavour that comes through.
The finish continues along the same vein, with lots of peat and a nod towards fruity sweetness. It is dry and the smoke lingers just long enough to be truly savoured.
I love everything Ian Macleod has done with this whisky, and was fortunate to try this against its beefier brother called Smokehead High Voltage in Berlin recently and can honestly say that this is an Islay whisky to be reckoned with.