Smokehead Islay Single Malt Whisky 43%

I picked this up because it was on offer in Morrisons, twenty five pounds is decent for a bottle of Single Malt from Islay and I’ve never heard anyone being overly critical of this, so went for it.

Couple of things before I get on with reviewing this, first is the bottle design, it’s just fucking awful, I actually sent a photo of the bottle to a mate and he said he wouldn’t go near such a bottle, admitted that might well be unfair, but stuck to his guns, and it’s a fair point.

The bottle looks like a Cypress Hill album cover, the skull and smoke head name is one step away from a cannabis leaf, AK47 and smoke trails, and no one wants that on a bottle of whisky. I can only assume that Ian Macleod Distillers who own the brand are trying to tap into the dope smoking or maybe Cypress Hill market or heavy metal or something but it’s daft and also odd seeing as how Glengoyne and Tamdhu, both in the Ian Macleod portfolio, are always beautifully presented, still, here we are.

Likes a little bit of water and it’s reasonably young, it’s an NAS whisky but I’m guessing it’s youngish, so doesn’t really benefit from any length of time in the glass.

Nose. Burnt toffee and smoldering ash, peat smoke and charred barrel, wet seaweed and a touch of candy floss, reminds me of summer’s day barbecues down on Portobello beach.

Palate. Charred barrel, peat smoke but with a touch of sweetness, toffee apples and caramel sauce, a little touch too woody on the palate, burnt meat that’s fallen into the cinders of a barbecue (that’s not a bad thing by the way) touch of stewed tea and then weirdly some orange blossom honey and some gooseberry jam.

Finish. Short, sweet, smoky and all over a bit too quick.

Hmmmm, interesting dram this, but it’s up against some very big players, the excellent Cask Islay, their own Six Isles and Big Peat to name but three in the over saturated Islay whisky market.

Now, there is nothing wrong with this whisky, but for the money I’m not sure it stands up to the aforementioned drams and that creates a problem because in this market whiskies need to really stand out to get noticed and what makes this really stand out is the bottle rather than the product itself which puts me off somewhat, at £25 though it’s an absolute steal and perhaps that’s where it should be priced because no one would complain about this at all if it were under thirty quid.

Would I buy this again? On offer, probably and I’ll try and source some samples of the range to see what’s what too, so it can’t be all bad, can it?

The Captain.




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