Smokehead (43%, Ian MacLeod, Circa 2012)

After the extremely rare and expensive Glenfiddich (what?) I reviewed earlier, time for a more affordable and more of a heavy hitting dram. Sitting inside, hearing the wind outside, it seems an appropriate choice. Smokehead is a Islay Single Malt Whisky marketed by Ian MacLeod, who also have their Chieftain’s series of Single Malts and also own the Glengoyne Distillery, so they know their way around Whisky.

I said marketed, since I have to admit I like the look of this bottle very much, or have a look at the special website they made for this bottle alone. Yes it’s a standard Scotch Liquor Bottle, but keep in mind it’s a very affordable Whisky, but the rest looks great. Just look at the lettering and look of it all. I don’t care much for the choice of words though ūüėČ

Color: Light Gold.

Nose: Peat, peated malt, citrus and then smoke. Peat smoke and paper smoke. Very clean. Clay and butter, hot butter like you get from smelling popcorn. Spicy smoke, like burning off your kitchen cabinet with all your dried herbs in it, or the smell you get when walking outside in a winter evening and smelling all those wood fires coming from chimneys. Still it comes across as very honest, young and untouched. The nose is great, no doubt about it, hope it tastes as good.

Taste: Smoke and burnt wood. Dry¬†peat, very young and un-complex, but also a bit un-balanced. Ash and a stunning absence of saltness. The best Islay Whiskies I know always have a sort of hidden sweetness to it, that this example lacks. It has some sweetness, but it comes across as diluted. Don’t get me wrong, 43% ABV is all right, but tastewise there isn’t that much happening here, which makes it a good first kiss if you’re interested in peated malts. Did I mention the rather short finish?

The bottle looks great, but I liked the nose even better. Tastewise¬†it’s a wee bit to thin for my taste, and lacking some Islay components, you get from¬†more aged Islay Whiskies (the sweetness and the saltness). Excellent choice for those who like peat and smoke, but also excellent for peatheads¬†or Islay-o-philes that have lost at the stock market. At this price and this quality, it’s the Johnny Walker Red Label of the peated malts!

Points: 77

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