June 15, 2015

Review: Smokehead 18 Extra Black

A few months ago we reviewed Smokehead Skull, a private label Islay single malt that we guessed to be a young Ardbeg or Laphroaig. Depending on your tolerance for marketing insanity, the preponderance of smoking skulls, custom designed Les Paul guitars, and packaging that looks like a Metallica album cover, the booze was pretty good.  The no age statement thing, along with the 43% ABV thing, along with the somewhat thin mouthfeel and finish put a bit of a damper on it, though we still enjoyed it.  But lo and behold we finally got our hands on the big brother, the Smokehead Extra Black 18-Year.  We're excited... in a Mad Max kind of way.

Tasting Notes

Nose:  Yowza!  Peat explosion!  Giving it a few minutes (and singeing nasal hairs on the peat) it becomes a menthol circus of mint oil with smoky meats.  Like well-charred lamb chops slathered in mint jelly.  There are rich herbals of thyme and cardamon.  Underneath all that is a deep honeycomb sweetness.

Body:  Here we go.  It's like Caol Ila cubed.  Layer after layer of deep peat smoke.  Wild spice, now we're beyond herbals and into the exotic - Vindaloo, liquid smoke, cracked pepper.  Coming back to the nose, it has really opened up now after ten minues with citrus bombs, like grilling lemon with the peel on.  Some deep aloe vera and tropical greens.

Finish:  It pretty much says it all when wifey exclaims  "Yeeaaaaaahhh!  Whoa Nelly! THAT'S what we're looking for!"  The finish lasts about a week.  It's surprisingly well-balanced for this much peat.  It's a nice end result.  The peat is great, but like we've said time and again, it's not just the peat.  There has to be a balance of flavor so that the peat isn't raw and throaty.  This has that with big big flavor and also some nice nuance of sweet and rich layers.

Clearly this dude drinks Smokehead Extra Black

Well-named, a smokehead dream dram.  It's really fun for peat freaks like us.  We'd still like to see the ABV picked up a few points (this one is 46%), particularly given the cost/rarity of this bottle ($150 or so and good luck finding one).  The super black bottle is pretty awesome though.    Definitely a fun piece if you're a collector.

And by the way MM in 3D is a two-hour long dystopian car chase out of hell.  What did you expect???



  1. Guess this is for real men and an occasionsl tough lady only?
    Sound like the beast finally found what he has been looking for!

    1. This lady didn't love being dragged to Mad Max Fury Road, but she did love the dram. hahaha!

    2. This lady didn't love being dragged to Mad Max Fury Road, but she did love the dram. hahaha!