Last year, a friend and neighbour was given a bottle of BOWMORE “Legend” Islay single malt Scotch Whisky and knowing that I liked the odd tipple of Scotch, he kindly shared it’s precious contents with me.
At the time, we did not know just how precious this deliciously smooth, smoky liquid gold was and needless to say, it evaporated rather quickly over several evening chats.
A little later, we discovered Bowmore no longer produce the “Legend”. OUTRAGEOUS!!! This was my first ever taste of Whisky from the Scottish Isles – and damn, it was soooo good compared to it’s Highland brethren. Heaps of character starting with a peat smoke goodness and a hint of fresh sea air with the first sniff transported you dreamily to the rugged island shores. Tasting it was smooth and well balanced, that subtle smoke with lemon, iodine and a hint of honey. Then, after swishing it about and letting the warmth settle into your stomach, you were rewarded with an ever-changing peaty smokey goodness that rolled around your mouth like standing around a camp fire in a gently shifting breeze.
So began a long and arduous quest in search of the ultimate peat smoke whisky! Well played Dan Murphy, you have a lot to answer for, tempting me with specials over the next nine months of so, one bottle slowly grew into a collection of smokey malts.
While I won’t bore the reader with my amateur tasting notes on each dram, I’ll just name my favourite – which may come as a surprise! It’s one of the cheapest ones and has very controversial reviews online, a Scotch you will likely either love or hate – and it’s not one for the feint hearted.
The nose is subtle compared to what you’re in for, a sweet, smokey aroma of pungent peat and sweet ocean spray, the golden liquid clings to the side of a glass as if crawling up the sides in an effort to escape.
The first quaff is like being king hit by a burly Scotsman, bold, sharp, tangy, salty iodine, smoke and more peat, both sweet and sour. It’s not the smoothest, nor does it promise to be, but it is the boldest – Scotland the Brave in a bottle!
The after taste is one that just keeps evolving and giving, the intensely rich spicy flavor unfolds for a good 10 minutes. It just lingers like a good cigar, not that I’ve smoked a cigar for years.
The label is naff and it doesn’t carry an age but Ian MacLeod distillers should stand proud with their Smokehead Islay single malt Scotch whisky. 43% of bottled Scottish goodness that retails for around $70AU, as the label states, “this is a vigorous whisky that stands out from the crowd”. This is the one I keep coming back to but once opened, evaporates way too quickly, as can be seen in the image below.