Monday, June 9, 2008
Have just tried ... Smokehead
Smokehead is a whisky released by independent bottling company Iain Mcleod's. It is primarily pitched and aimed at attracting a newer, younger consumer. This reflects in the dynamic, graphic and innovative packaging and other promotional material, As well as the price point of around £25-£30. It is rumoured that they use very young (approx. 4-5 years old) Ardbeg from the island of Islay, which is one of the world's smokiest whiskies, but they have not been allowed to use the Ardbeg name. This is very intense from the start. The nose gives a blast of peaty, earthy smoke with an underlying sweetness. On the palate, this is quite complex for something of such a young age (generally younger whiskies can be a bit harsh and rough as the alcohol level is high and other flavours from the maturation process have not have time to develop). This is smooth but your tastebuds are under attack. The smokiness is again very intense but once you get passed this, other characters start to come through. There is something floral (heather, I think), some caramel or toffee, loads of freshly cut grass and an interesting salty tang. There is also a menthol element (think of antiseptic) and a bitter edge right at the end (iodine). These last two are classic characteristics for heavily peated Islay whiskies. The finish is long with lots of smoke and earth again, although the saltiness is also there as is an interesting hint of spiciness (imagine crushed peppercorns). I expected Smokehead to be aggresive as it is so young, but was pleasantly surprised that it was so smooth and rounded. However, the flavours are very intense, it's very smoky and this whisky is not for the faint hearted. Within the marketing they have a number of cocktail recipes that creatively use Smokehead and I would be interested in trying some of these to see how well they work (these can be found on their website www.smokehead.co.uk). A very good buy for the price.