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Smokehead Extra Black 18 year old review

Smokehead featured image

Smokehead 18 year old single malt is a 6000 bottle limited release by Ian Macleod – a mystery dram from Islay. There’s also a non age statement whisky under the Smokehead brand, launched in 2006. It is much cheaper and presumably, better available than this 18YO Extra Black. The name, by the way, comes from the black package. Apart from the sophisticated, yet strong smoke, this whisky isn’t a dark one.The package is great, like Smokehead website describes it:

“The design reflects the 18 years old malt’s limited edition status. A tapered frosted black bottle, imprinted with contemporary silver letterpress type makes Smokehead Extra Black stand out from the crowd, while the robust matt black flight case carrier with silver Smokehead logo, reaffirms that this product is every inch, ‘Extra Black’.”

Smokehead Extra Black metal box

But what’s even more great, is that the content is good too. I think that this whisky is probably worth the premium price. You’ll get as good smoky Islay malts with 20 pounds cheaper, but then again, they’re are not in a stylish “luxury-robust” package.

I stepped into a smoke SAUNA

First time I tried this, it felt like going into a smoke sauna on a swamp somewhere northerly. Burnt wood was the first scent, which quickly faded away turning onto strong peat. Giving a feeling of wet forest peat near water, by a river or a sea.

Smokehead Extra Black 18YO Islay single malt whisky

Smokehead 18YO is rich, it isn’t only a smoky dram. Not the strongest one, when it comes to smoke, but a nice sophisticated peated whisky. And what it lacks in smoke, it gives back in richness. Fortunately the smoke does come strongly at the start, giving a ”phenolhead” like my some satisfaction.

Smoke brings a wee bit of darkness in the mix, so I can make a movie reference with the Finnish film called Sauna. The movie takes place in a forest damp along with sauna, so it is quite like this whisky. Both are earthly, peated and wet. Smokehead is quite rich like a smoky steam generated by a good smoke sauna. You should try one, if you haven’t before!

Colour: Pale straw
Nose: Starts with great strong burnt wood indoors sensation. Tar and hints of honey with citrus. Citrus notes start to raise after the smoke has faded.
Taste: Smoke is present but in a very sophisticated way. Peat is sweetly in the main part. Little bit of spices with some citrus notes as well. The taste is tropical. Water adds more sweetness and some earthly tone too.
Finish: Sweet notes go away and spices clash with oak. Small addition of water makes the aftertaste bitter.
Balance: Good whisky indeed. Maybe I’d like it to be a bit smokier but then again, would it loose the richness? And yes, it still is smoky, even though I might make it sound like it’s not. I’m just a peathead, always searching intensity in that area.


Region: Islay Bottler: Ian Macleod Brand: Smokehead ABV: 46%

Smokehead Extra Black 18 year old single malt whisky from Islay

Smokehead 18 year old Extra Black whisky review

Johannes Lindblom
Johannes Lindblom
Finnish whisky enthusiast and the author of WhiskyRant! A digital marketing professional by day – a whisky reviewer and informer by night.

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