We kicked off our exploration of Smokehead earlier this summer with a look at the flagship offering and its bolder, cask strength sibling. Those bottles are joined in the Smokehead lineup by a trio of unique cask finished expressions (with a fourth, stout-finished offering on the way). Thoughts follow.
Smokehead Tequila Cask Terminado – Finished in tequila casks for an undisclosed time period. The peaty punch of the flagship is nowhere to be found in this aroma, which offers instead notes of dark honey, vanilla bean, cut grass, and a subtle lacing of tarry smoke. The palate is light and sweet and a bit flat at the outset. Thin notes of cream soda eventually give way to a gently floral midpalate of sandalwood and incense that builds into the finish with a peppery spice and a quick finale of flamed orange peel and overcooked butterscotch. The tequila cask has certainly rounded some of the smokier, dirtier edges of classic Smokehead and added some new elements, but there’s still something of a void to fill on the flavor front. 86 proof. B / $80
Smokehead Sherry Cask Blast – Formerly dubbed Sherry Bomb, this single malt has been aged for an unspecified amount of time in Spanish sherry casks. From the nose, it was a healthy maturation (or very wet finishing casks) because the sherry notes have almost completely overtaken the trademark peat reek, coalescing into notes of grilled barbecue sauce, orange marmalade, and a pruney sweetness. The palate is gently warming and well-balanced with notes of dark cherry, peppered bacon, clove-studded orange, and campfire smoke. The finish relinquishes some of that heavy sherry character, returning to matchheads and soot, before a final lingering rum raisin note. The best sipper in the lineup. 96 proof. A- / $80
Smokehead Rum Cask Rebel – Finished for an unspecified amount of time in Caribbean oak casks. It’s mildly soapy on the nose with soft creosote and chimney notes. There’s nothing particularly rummy that jumps out, but things are a bit less meaty than the standard offering with brighter notes of lemon oil and perhaps some overripe banana in the mix. The palate reveals a bit more of the finishing with top notes of torched sugar and dark, almost bitter, molasses which don’t quite mesh with the tarry smoke and treacle sweetness of the core whisky. The finish is short but finally reveals some welcome balance between all that ash and a latent grilled pineapple sweetness. Not exactly a summer sipper, but it could make a really weird Mai Tai. 92 proof. B / $80