Last week, Iain MacLeod Distillers announced the latest release in their Smokehead brand and it’s a rather exciting one. This latest edition of the intensely peaty Islay single malt brings the whisky together with rich flavours of Sherry imparted by quality Spanish oak casks.
The liquid inside is no-age-statement single malt produced on the world famous whisky producing island of Islay and all of that salty, peaty goodness that you would expect from such a dram is on full show here.
Where this differs from previous releases in the Smokehead range is that this particular edition has spent time maturing in those afore mentioned Spanish sherry casks. The results are a powerful and intense expression that tastes something like a combination of a full-blown Sherry bomb and an extra-peaty Islay whisky, and thankfully – it works.
‘Explosive’ Whisky in a Fiery Bottle
Coming packaged in a bottle that looks like it could double as Molotov cocktail, with a deep red skull contrasting against the stark black bottle, no one can say that the Smokehead Sherry Bomb doesn’t give you an advanced warning of the experience you’ll get from the liquid inside. It looks like it could blow at any minute and with mouthfuls of peat and a bag full of sherry it duly delivers.
Smokehead’s Brand Director, Iain Weir, acknowledged that it was a bold and divisive dram: “It’s not for everyone, but if you’re after a blog, peaty whisky that’s been blasted by rich Sherry casks, this is the taste explosion you’ve been waiting for.”
Let’s Talk Liquid
So what is that explosion like? In order to get a better understanding of the whisky, we tried it out and this is what we thought.
On the nose the peat is the most apparent. It’s thick and heavy and brings a peat burning industrial chimney stack to mind (if there was such a thing). After a few sniffs it slightly subsides and makes way for much fruitier notes. Citrus peels, vanilla and a little oak come through and that peat lingers in the background.
The palate arrives with more peat, this time it’s not as thick but it hangs around and makes it feel like more of that is still to come. Sticky toffee, sultanas and very rich dried fruits come to the fore along with a subtle sherried spice. For being so peaty it is surprising just how complex this whisky is and the Sherry has had very obvious effects on the dram.
The peat returns with a vengeance on the finish, making its way from your palate to the back of your throat and then up into your nose again. In the background a real sweetness starts to come through out of nowhere and that Spanish sherry is left lingering for a decent length of time.
Overall it’s a very well composed and interesting dram that everyone should try at least once. If, like us, peat is your thing, you’ll definitely be back for more.
This is the most exciting and exhilarating Smokehead release so far and it really builds the hype for future releases. With Iain MacLeod Distillers saying that they have secured more casks from the Islay distillery that goes into Smokehead, more expressions could be just around the corner.
To get a taste of this incredible dram, click here.