Smokehead has been around for some time now. There is a non-age statement release that is continuously available, but about six years ago Ian Macleod also released a limited release. Smokehead 18 Year Old Extra Black is an Islay single malt limited at 6000 bottles, and has received many favourable reviews.
Surprisingly it is still available in many shops. The price has gone up a bit from it’s original retail price (roughly 80/90 euro), but in The Netherlands it can still be found for at 140 euro, which is relatively cheap for what is supposedly an 18 year old Ardbeg. Unofficially this has been confirmed many times over. By an Ian Macleod rep to Matt from Whisky For Everyone for example. Or to me by the Dutch importer.
In short: I’ve heard it enough times now from reputable sources that I’m at least 99 percent convinced that what I’m reviewing today was distilled at Ardbeg.
Smokehead 18 Year Old (46%, Ian Macleod, 2010)
Nose: Subtle brine and peat smoke with a hint of rubber. Also apple juice, grapes and a touch of varnish. Very delicate.
Taste: The peat smoke is very soft. There’s some ash and tar, as well as smoked salmon, ginger and brine. It has a faint fruity side with bananas and peaches. Lacks some punch.
Finish: Soft smokiness with faint fruits. Medium in length.
Good but not great is the most apt description for me. Even though it is bottled at a respectable 46 percent, this feels like it was watered down a bit too much.