Smokehead whisky rips up the rule book with a new look and its recently unleashed High Voltage bottling.
Whisky tastings often follow a fairly staid set of rules. A bit of chat about the brand’s heritage. Admire the liquid’s colour. And then a spot of reverential nosing and sipping.
All perfectly pleasant but unlikely to set the heather alight.
Or at least that was the case until Smokehead decided to put their own spin on a tasting at a recent event in Glasgow’s SWG3.
We arrived to be greeted by the site of what can only be called bondage chickens being smoked over a wood fire.
And things just got weirder from then on.
First launched in 2006 by Ian Macleod Distillers, Smokehead is a single malt whisky from one of Islay’s eight distilleries.
It is as heavily peated and as smoky as the name implies.
The original 43% ABV Smokehead has just been repackaged so that its skull logo is much more prominent.
It has also been joined by a new release: the 58% ABV Smokehead High Voltage.
Smokehead: for the adventurous drinker
Commenting on the new expression and bold new look, Brand Director Iain Weir said: ‘Smokehead has always challenged the traditional whisky world with its unconventional look and attitude, appealing to the younger and adventurous whisky drinker. We’ve turned up the volume right across the brand. It’s not for everyone, but that’s OK.
‘And if the original is an assault on your senses, then High Voltage is an all-out attack. Louder, bolder and more intense than getting put in a headlock from an angry roadie.’
How to celebrate all this? Well how about cocktails made with Smokehead and Sriracha sauce; doughnuts stuffed with venison soil and Smokehead maple syrup plus octopus spikes matched with a salty Smoked Seadog cocktail?
We’re not in Kansas anymore.
Here are the official tasting notes:
Smokehead (43% ABV)
The first impression: the aroma of something powerful and fiery awaiting you. Thick, heavy wood smoke. Rich, earthy peat. Extremes of spice and sweetness. Fresh lemon, zesty ginger, rich plum jam.
The full-on flavour: an explosion of breathtaking peppery, peaty heat, soothed by honeyed sweetness, before the smoke comes to the fore again.
The finale: exotic spices and a curious citrus tang of mandarin, both lulling you into a false sense of calm as the peat roars back to hit your senses again.
Smokehead High Voltage (58% ABV)
The first impression: Breathe it in and feel the rush of spirit hit the senses and the nose prickle. Intense peat and smoke, maritime air, porridge oats, clean vanilla and toffee.
The full-on flavour: A burn of hot spirit and the mouth fills with smoke, feeling almost thick with oiliness before softening and becoming creamier, with nutty, briny and citrus notes.
The finale: The mouth is almost in shock, numb and tingling. A sweetness mixes nicely with the slowly fading smoke, leaving a salty tang.