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Type – Single Malt
Age – Not stated
Location – Islay
Casks – Not stated
Price – £55.76
Smokiness – 4/5
Fruitiness – 2/5
Oakiness – 2/5
Spiciness – 2/5
Boldness – 3/5
Smokehead is perhaps not as well a known peated whisky as other Islay offerings but both the distillery name and their ‘Extra Rare’ product design do stand out from the crowd. This is a travel retail product so it’s not that readily available online.
The bottle and case are covered in bold claims and flavour profiles the distiller considers relevant which include all encompassing descriptive words like ‘fruity’ or ‘citrus’ but the nose gives quite a savoury suggestion. Strangely, there’s almost a toasted sesame aroma. It’s also heavily medicinal. And there is a raw smoked smell which is reminiscent of some of the lower quality Laphroaig scotches like their ‘Select’ single malt or an Ardbeg. It’s definitely a whisky for smoke heads.
When tasting Smokehead’s Extra Rare, you’re hit with powerful smoke and aniseed is also quite present. There’s a little, and really a tiny amount, of sweetness. It’s by no means fruity as they claim on the packaging. It’s quite an acquired taste. If you’re into smoked meats along with fennel salads then this is the scotch for you.
The finish is straight forward and to be honest there is nothing particularly special about it. It’s more of the sustained smoke and oak from the barrels used.
As mentioned before the distiller is very up front about their descriptions and state it’s ‘boisterous’ and ‘massive’. To be honest, it’s quite an unbalanced single malt being heavily skewed to the smokey-side but some like that in scotches. If you stack this up against a Lagavulin, Laphroaig or even Arbeg then it will come up short.
The cost of this scotch is around £55 and unless you’re looking for an untamed smokey experience, there are perhaps better options out there which have a bit more depth in flavour to balance out the peated notes. As highlighted earlier, you can probably find a similar experience to this with the Laphraoig Select which is also considerably cheaper.
It’s a powerfully smokey single malt so you may want to add a water or ice to release more of the underlying flavours.
Metal, Rock, Blues
This is a single malt that claims big things and will have fans out there but it’s rough around the edges and has tough competition from Islay distillers. Thinking of artists who have always been in the shadows of others there’s one band that springs to mind, Megadeth.
Dave Mustaine was formally in Metallica as lead guitarist before being replaced by Kirk Hammett. Since starting Megadeth, he has always been in the shadows of his former band who saw enormous and unparalleled success. In this way, we compare Smokehead to other distillers on Islay.
Their Cryptic Writing’s album has a few good tracks on it, in particular Mastermind, that has a pretty catchy hook played on bass and guitar. When you compare the production and musicianship to Metallica, it’s good but it is rough around the edges which reminds us of the Smokehead Extra Rare, this makes it a perfect pairing.