Wednesday 22 November 2017

Smokehead NAS & 18 Reviews

Hi everyone,

Two mystery malts today from Ian Macleod. They own Glengoyne and Tamdhu distilleries, as well as being independent bottlers for stuff like this.
Smokehead is an Islay single malt, and people love to try and guess which one. There’s only a few viable options but it’s a little more tricky to distinguish than you’d think I think. A reason distilleries will sometimes sell off casks is because they don’t fit the normal profile of the distillery and they can’t use them. So, that means that these could be quite a different style to the normal distillery profile, making it harder to guess.
Realistically I think there’s only four options: Laphroaig, Ardbeg, Lagavulin and Caol Ila. To get the style of peatiness. I think the clue is the secrecy. They would be able to put Caol Ila on the label if it was Caol Ila. Unless it’s a play to make it seem like one of the others (getting a higher price), while actually being Caol Ila…

Smokehead 43%
Colour: Gold
Body: Full
Nose: Peat smoke as expected but quite floral. A meaty note with some burnt hay, damp hay, damp earth, some sweetness with lemon and burnt vanilla pod. A cooling note after a bit with creaminess and more vanilla.
Taste: Ethereal to start then sweet and a little fruity with lemon, then swelling peat going very farmy (settles a little with time) with lots of earth, peat bog, wet hay, WET DOG??!, grass and a little soot. A mint note after a bit with herbal oak and bitterness coming through into the finish.
Finish: Medium length. Drying oak with earthy soot.
The wet dog note is interesting. Never had that in a whisky before, even though Serge mentions it quite a lot.

Smokehead 18 46%
Colour: Light Gold
Body: Full
Nose: Petrol, oily, slightly medicinal with iodine, mineral, sea splashed rocks, some banana but not really tropical like an older Laphroaig.
Taste: Soft arrival, builds with mineral and iodine notes, medicinal then more petrol rags and banana. Not quite Caroni-esque but similar in style to The Antiquary 35 I just reviewed.
Finish: Short/Medium length. Oils coat then go. Some petrol.
Shame about the finish being quite short. Funny that my last review, The Antiquary 35, had these petrol-y notes too. I did wash out my glass! Promise!
I was expecting this to be Ardbeg and have that lime juice note, but actually it could very well be any of the others. Cool packaging too!

Thanks for reading!

Scotch Review #502-#503
Whisky Network Review #578-#579

Network Average: 74.6
Best Score: 92
Worst Score: 22
0-49 Terrible
50-59 Bad
60-64 Just About OK
65-69 Ok to Good
70-74 Good
75-79 Very Good
80-84 Excellent
85-89 Superb
90+ Magnificent

Full Disclosure Disclaimer: I currently work as a Brand Ambassador for Penderyn Distillery. The views expressed here are purely my own and do not reflect the views of Penderyn Distillery or The Welsh Whisky Company. I try to maintain as much objectivity as I can but feel free to take my reviews with as big a pinch of salt as you like. Furthermore, my rating scale is NOT based on a Parker type wine scoring scale or a school/college/university % or A-F grade score. You can find more on my scoring here. I apologise for any seemly low or 'bad' scores given with my system and am sorry I can't say only nice things. Please keep in mind that I am ethically compromised and am unable to produce 100% unbiased reviews.

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