Origin: Isle of Islay (Scotland)
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Ageing barrels: Ex-Bourbon Hogshead charred
Added coloring: No
Owner: Ian Macleod Distillers Ltd
Avearage price: € 43.00
Official website: www.ianmacleod.com
The basic version of Ian Macleod’s line of super-peated whiskies, a single malt whose distillery of origin is only known to be from Islay (but some murmur that it’s a young Ardbeg).
There are a number of labels containing undeclared whiskies from Islay, playing on young malts where the peatiness is particularly strong, in order to tap into that segment of the market that is looking for “strong sensations”. It’s no surprise then that Smokehead’s design hints at a certain muscular and rough imagery, which in other times would have been defined as “masculine” but which today, fortunately, goes beyond gender boundaries.
Those tasted so far have all been pleasant expressions, perhaps not monsters of complexity (nor do they want to be), but which can be drunk with good light-heartedness.
In this case, it’s worth appreciating the willingness to move away from the minimum alcohol content, even if only slightly.
Full gold in the glass.
On the nose, we are in the realm of hardcore barbecue, chops and ribs marinated in Worcester sauce sizzling on the burning wood, exuding aromas of resin and toasted pine needles. Scattered around, appear sweet liquorice, caramel, toasted almonds, baked apple and candied orange, sprinkled with sea water. A sort of Islay 001, in short.
In the mouth, the meaty side tends to vanish, leaving room to burning wood that eats up almost the entire body of the whisky. The smoke is thick and veined with a discreet peppery quality, with flashes of ginger, barely letting appear citric notes with candied orange, liquorice, a vague hint of chocolate and a fleeting impression of leather.
The finish is moderately long and astringent, of dull embers, bitter orange, salt and pine needles.
Simple, as hardly anything else it could have been, the toasted soul tends to take over leaving little room for depth and richness, a smoke blanket as the label promises. For those looking for a bonfire in liquid form, this could be an excellent choice.