All things Whisky & Cigars
Smokehead Whisky is one of the newer brands coming from the world of Islay single malts. But make no mistake, it's already earned its place with the big boys of the region. Smokehead now offers four main expressions in its core range: The Original (43% ABV), Rum Rebel (46% ABV), Sherry Bomb (48% ABV) and High Voltage (58% ABV). Additionally, there are two others for travel retail only plus a miniature set of three coming in a nicely presented tin. Smokehead create their whisky via contract distilling through one of the nine distilleries present on Islay. They do not, however, disclose the distillery to keep the mystery alive.
So, let us start with The Original: The nose gives you everything you want and expect from the name Smokehead originating from a solid Islay whisky, with hints of ginger and lemon doing battle over the tones of thick wood smoke and hard-hitting earthy peat. The smoke once again is at the forefront on the palate; however, it also provides a hard-hitting mix of pepper and peat heat which seems steadied by hints of honey smoothness. This is all rounded off by exotic spices and citrus hints before another smoke-filled kick on the finish.
The High Voltage is their cask strength addition in the range sitting at 58% ABV, and it certainly packs the punch of any cask strength bottling. The Smokehead signature of peat and smoke once again attacks the nose, with a delicate toffee and vanilla accompanying it. The palate is another attack with an almost fiery oil feel, leading to some delectable creamy and citrus notes. This completes with a salty finish and a smoke that fades away.
Following this, Smokehead released their first cask finish in the form of the explosive Sherry Bomb and this really lets you know that you have a top Islay whisky in your hand. The peat is thick on the nose and leads to a fruity and creamy feel that you would expect from a sherry cask finish. The palate gives you a mouthful of black smoke coating it in peat, while also packing a sticky Barbequed banana and dried fruited flavor. The finish sees the return of the peat and a pleasing authentic sherry oak feel.
So, this leads us to the latest member of the family and the final part of the Smokehead range we are going to talk about today, Rum Rebel. The burnt marshmallow on the nose tells you this is a unique dram straightway, it also has a classic bacon there, and the intense smoke and peat lets you know you still have a glass of Smokehead in your hand. On the palate, there’s the peat which seems rich in flavor with a superb hit of sea spray, banana and dried fruits. Nutmeg and vanilla add a beautiful contrast to the smoke on the finish.
Having sampled all four of the amazing expressions from the Smokehead range, it’s safe to say this is a top brand whisky in my view. They have experimented with their core range and if you know how to mix them then they’re really worth a try. Though I couldn’t agree more with the company’s tagline of “it’s not for everyone”, it’s certainly one for me.
So, until next time, Slainte Mhath for now.
Dave - Cambridge