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Smokehead

Average score from 10 reviews and 40 ratings 83

Smokehead

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@cricklewood
Smokehead

This is an NAS single malt from an undisclosed Islay distillery. This brand comes from Ian Macleod's company, who's portfolio includes, Isle of Skye, Glengoyne & Thamdu among others.

Like most of these type of releases there's much speculation on the origin of the casks for this whisky. Many speculate that this is a vatting of young casks of Ardbeg that don't quite meet the company's standards. Let's see.

Nose: Smoked herring, damp cellar, creosote, it leans towards Ardbeg or Laphroaig heavy smoke. Salt, a smidge of vanilla, a little mercurochrome nothing else...maybe salt ham.

Palate: Acrid, earthy, sharp, kelp, oysters, beach bonfire, latex, milky, peat reek.

Finish is all on ashes, saltpetre, brine.

Good uncompromising stuff, all oily fish, milky/latex and ashy smoke. It ticks off all the peat freak boxes, don't look for subtleties. I like this it's very honest.

It's been a while, but this sounds like my experience with Smokehead from a few years ago.

In my memory, it and Kelpie are pretty similar. OK, but nothing you want to buy again.

I haven't had the pleasure/displeasure of Kelpie,I haven't had many of the Committee releases and none of the more recent ones, the enjoyment/value doesn't seem worth it, not while the 10 and Oogie are so good.

As for this Smokehead, I actually like it's simple effectiveness, in Quebec it's too close in price to Laphroaig 10 (only 6$ less) to consider seriously purchasing, I think for UK/EU supermarket prices it makes it more of an actual budget option.

@Victor

Smokehead is an Islay Single malt from Ian MacLeod. There is no age statement. Thanks to @Pudge72 for the reviewed sample

Nose: strong intensity, sharp, pungent, piercing smoke, peat, and brine. The peat is a combination of both sweet and bitter. The underlying barley smells good, too, in a supporting role. Beautiful, really, and better than I was expecting. Water rounded, mellowed, and bundled the flavours

Taste: very crisp in the mouth, too, with the taste of smoke almost stronger than the smoke in the nose; effective and strong translation of the nose flavours. Water dilutes and brings out bitterness

Finish: the peat and smoke just camp out on the tongue; better, less bitter finish without water

Balance: hard-core smoke and peat lovers will love Smokehead. For 43% abv these are extremely intense flavours. A reviewer who values above all else Big Flavours and is a Peathead might well rate this whisky 92-95 pts. Complexity is limited to the peat and brine related flavours, though. Smokehead tastes to me closest to a very smokey Lagavulin

Have you tried the D&T's The Big Smoke 60 (120 proof)? If so, how does that compare with the Smokehead that you so graciously reviewed, Victor?

@rigmorole, I haven't seen The Big Smoke 60, but it is certainly a whisky that I would like to sample. Chances are that I will enjoy it.

@Cahoona

This Whisky is perfection for those who like the 'peaty' side. Can be enjoyed all night, even with coffee on the side.

The Smokehead lives up to its name with a lingering 'smokiness' that is worth savouring.

@markjedi1

This Smokehead is an Islay single malt, rumoured to be a 6 Year Old Ardbeg. Could it be? We are curious, of course.

Very smoky nose on coals and smoked ham. Then a nice sweet edge from pineapple and sultanas. Mildly herbal. Rather simple, but round and full.

On the palate, this is a peat beast. Big smokiness, full flavor of fruit with a hint of sherry casks in the mix in the shape of pineapple and sultanas (like I said: simple).

The finish can be called long with a big, sweet smokiness.

Not even 30 EUR, that is very friendly priced. Thanks, Pat!

@bigd

I was a little under the weather when I sampled this number. Instantly after cracking it open and having a cheeky sniff I knew this would be the kind of medicine that would have me feeling better in no time. After the first sip it did exactly that. Gave me a nice warming sensation inside and a bit of a tingle on my skin.

It opens up nicely with just a couple drops of water

Puts a smile on your face and keeps you wanting more.

P.S the guy at my local wine shop said it was an 8 year old Laphroaig but online a lot of people say it is a 7 year old Ardbeg or Lagavulin, Coal Ila. Who knows?

@Narcism

As its name would indicate, it was indeed a smokey experience.

Its scent was intensely smokey with notes of fruit, vanilla and iodine.

When drank, it was a lot more peaty, smokey, toffee-tasting. A taste that should remind you of camping and having to huddle around a campfire.

Its finish was cigar and sherry-like and it certainly lingered.

Not the most complex taste, but it certainly delivers for what it's trying to do with a name like "Smokehead."

@MaltActivist

My first 'mystery' single malt, which means the distillery is unknown (it's been packaged by someone else). As the name suggest it's heavily peated on the nose with all sorts of oily salts with a hint of fruits. The same journey continues on the palate as the dominant oaky leather and tobacco mix with fruits to present an unusual (but pleasant) offering. The finish is long smoky and dry with tangy overtones.

@markjedi1

The Smokehead Extra Rare can be found in travel retail (although quite a few retailers carry this as well) and is bottled by MacLeod Distillers. The Islay distillery is kept secret. Some say it is Lagavulin, others claim it to be Ardbeg. Might as well be Caol Ila. Who knows?

The nose is almost creamy and very peaty. Very spicy too. An exotic mix of seaweeds, lime, sherry, caramel and a smouldering hearth. But unfortunately, I also get something of blue cheese that seems out of place.

It is rather watery with a pretty weak attack and even a touch soapy. Ouch! This is a letdown. If I try hard, I can get some caramel and lime, quite a bit of ashes and even some almonds. But the level of detergent takes on disgusting proportions. This is not Extra Rare but Wacky Weirdo, if you ask me.

The finish is mercifully short, all on ashes and brine.

I cannot shake the feeling something was wrong with my sample. I will have to try this again. When tasting this at Heathrow last June, it was much better. Smokehead simply cannot be that bad. Please do not confuse this one with the excellent (but expensive) Smokehead 18 Year Old.

You are spot on... This is the only whisky I have tasted that has been totaly destroyed by water before it's opened.

Watery, soapy,...detergent...I am surprised this rates 69.

@galg

Nose: Massive Peat, Tons of smoke, Tar, Lemon sherbet, Soot, Sea spray, smoked bacon.. ISLAY spelled out in big bold 72 point letters. It kicks you ,it makes you smile. I like those young Islays, and this teenager is no different, you can sense it's young. the peat is pristine, strong, untamed. lovely.

Palate: Peat attack on the first wave , then smoke comes in, some pepper,chilly, cured bacon then some sweet peppery smoke and ash.

Finish : Ashy, smoky , sweet pepper lingers for looooooooooooong.

Bottom line : This is a very good example of a young, kicking, smokin’, peaty little monster. It encapsulates the essence of “Islay young malts”, and offers a great, yet not ultra-complex experience for peat-heads, or just if you feel like digging deep into Islay Turf. It’s not very cheap (costs a bit more than let’s say Laphraoig 10), but offers a different experience, less tarry, and more rounded in my view (Hey, the Laph 10 is a classic, and I love it). All in all, i think Ian McLeod, who bottled this ‘Mystery’ dram did a very good job.

@cask_strength

very young and raw, but very good. Smoke, peat and honey nose, lots of straight-forward islay flavors of smokey ash, peat, malt, salty brine, and honey or toffee. Good peppery finish, warms you up. Cool packaging.

I concur with your comments on the nose, and would add iodine and seaweed aromas to your list. A definte presence of honey notes. Oily on the tongue and makes your mouth water.

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