Origin: Isle of Islay (Scotland)
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Ageing barrels: Ex-Sherry Oloroso
Added coloring: No
Owner: Ian Macleod Distillers Ltd
Avearage price: € 89.00
Official website: www.ianmacleod.com
Like The Ileach, here is another independent bottler drawing from Islay’s vast and rich pool of distilleries to extract custom bottles without revealing their origin.
They are not many those who keep secret the distilleries of origin of the whiskies they bottle, and it’s inevitable that rumours will chase each other as to which they are, although I personally find this a sterile exercise.
Founder over eighty years ago of Ian Macleod Distillers, Leonard J. Russell Sr. was “firmly convinced of the value of independence”, and over the years his company has given rise to a number of labels such as Glengoyne, Tamdhu and this Smokehead, which has made peat into its flagship product, intelligently riding a decidedly rich and growing trend.
But is it all smoke and no fire?
A very dark, garnet-coloured amber ‘explodes’ in the glass, very attractive.
The nose is meaty, with lots of barbecue sauce, coupled with the sherried soul of sultanas, toasted hazelnuts, cinnamon and marzipan. Tough, but balanced.
Being a NAS it’s not possible to know how long it has been in the cask, but from the way it warms the throat I would not say many years. The wood makes itself felt on the tongue, while the palate is enveloped by the oily fumes of the barbecue and the embers, without lacking the sweeter component of cinnamon and toasted nuts, a touch of liquorice and, on the length, a clear marine component, with the salinity balancing the marriage of peat and Sherry. Definitely and proudly Islay, which distillery really matters in the end?
The finish is (a lot) of salt, barbecue sauce and slight astringency.
The combination of Sherry Oloroso and high peat is a nice choice, the two strong personalities soften each other up, perhaps it just pays a little for its youth: if it was aged properly, I think it would really explode.