Smokehead – Teaching First Grade on Islay Whisky Tasting Notes

This whisky is another Islay mystery malt, thought to be a young Ardbeg and bottled by Ian Macleod.

Given the current Islay craze, it seems like anything that is distilled on the island is bound to fly off the shelves. Thus, Smokehead joins Finlaggan (who’s cask strength expression was reviewed here), the Ian Mcleod As We Get It Islay (with an upcoming review), Port Askaig (reviewed here) and the Classic of Islay (which is a teaspooned Lagavulin) in the line of mystery Islay single malt independent bottling that are neither single casks nor vatted (blended) malts.

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Smokehead (43% ABV, NC)

Color: Light gold, quick thin legs

Nose: New make scent, ,flowers with a strong layer of peat under it, seaweed and brine. Young, very young whisky.

Palate: Seawater, seaweed, sweet malt, salt, Flowery sweetness left on the tongue. Despite the “Chutzpa” it has, it has a very nice mouth feel.

Linger: Short and leaves the mouth full of ashes, with a sweet undertone of sherry like sweetness.


The young character of the spirit is very much there, with the new make present. It’s a great every day whisky, and while still lacking in complexity, is very enjoyable. Honestly, I’d like to try the 18 year old, as I think that expression would present the complexity I enjoy in whisky.

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