Whisky Wednesday: Smokehead 18 Year Old Extra Black

Review Whisky

I’m a sucker for smoke in my whisky, so something with a name like this is always going to catch my eye – well aged, smoky and black, how could it fail to appeal to an Islayphile?

Smokehead Extra Black

You may be forgiven for assuming from the name that this was going to be a dark dram in the glass, but the Smokehead 18 Year Old Extra Black is actually comparatively light coloured.

The aroma, however, is so smoke-filled I was half expecting to find my nose covered in soot – a proper bonfire in the glass, laced with a big alcohol hit. Underneath that you can just about discern a raw grain that surprises me in an 18 year old. Then there’s just a whiff of TCP; something I’ve often seen in tasting notes and never managed to detect myself before.

With a splash of water cutting back on that smoke just a little, those medicinal notes come through more, and a suggestion of green fruit.

The first taste is spectacular; deep smoke feeding through to almost toffee sweetness and then a huge warming alcohol filling your mouth. That smoke and heat makes it feel like you have a small camp fire on your tongue, but in a very, very good way.

Water takes away that bonfire assault on your senses; what remains is that sweetness tempered with some spice, and with just a slightly rough, tannic edge to the tail. Still nice, and very drinkable, but a shadow of it’s undiluted self.

Watered, this is a pretty damn tasty, smoky whisky. Undiluted, it’s a spectacular glass of smouldering deliciousness.



Are you off to Islay? We’ve been twice and love it… we’re heading up next year again… can’t wait. Have a great time!

Miss Whiplash

The TCP must be the iodine? There’s a lot of that in some of the Islays, I think…

I’m also a sucker for smoke – maybe we can find some of this and give it a try.

I quite often walk into the kitchen in the morning after someone has been drinking whisky the night before and genuinely wonder what’s been on fire until I isolate the smell to last night’s glasses. Crazy.


@Miss whiplash – two different things. TCP is trichlorophenol compounds from within the organic matter in the peat smoke. Iodine is more likely a note from sea air/dilution water perhaps and has a different taste to TCP.


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