Driving back down from the ferry terminal at Larne after my latest trip to Scotland, a meal break was in order.
Using the old Portadown, Monaghan, Cavan N55 route found us entering the Greville Arms Hotel in Granard for an early evening feed.
I was hoping they might have an old Michael Collins whiskey to sample given the Kitty Kiernan link. No such luck on that front.
They did have a bottle of the original 8 Year Old Pure Malt Sheep Dip blended malt however!
This is a soft, sweet, smooth & gently malty approachable blended malt that has proved popular over the years. It’s had as many owners as changes in labels during that time. This is an early incarnation with the MJ Dowdeswell & Co label before Spencerfield Spirit took it over then latterly Ian Macleod Distillers.
I always try to pick up some new whiskey – for me at least – when I’m out & about. I popped into the local Oddbins whilst in London recently & came out with this Smokehead miniature – well – it’s air travel friendly.
Contrary to a lot of what has been said regarding transparency in the Irish whiskey world – this bottle of Islay Single Malt doesn’t say which distillery made it. It does say who bottled it – Ian Macleod Distillers – who do own distilleries – but not on Islay.
Islay is renowned the world over for it’s peaty whisky and Smokehead is a brand which exudes that quality. It’s also proudly a mystery malt – along with others like Finlaggan & Aldi’s Glen Marnoch – in that the actual distillery isn’t disclosed – leading to much speculation & guessing – which is part of the fun.
I also crave a bit of peat influence in my whiskey. It adds a bit of punch & vitality to the glass. Much like these French rockers who also go by the name Smokehead.
The nose has that lovely rich peaty smoke which enwraps me with it’s charms. A hint of caramel jars with me however and I immediately get suspicious of added e150. This was later confirmed by an internet search here.
There’s quite a nice oily mouthfeel on the taste. It reminds me of a dark heavy Bunnahabhain – although most pundits reckon the malt is Ardbeg – with a lovely spiciness too.
The smoke lingers on the finish & just makes me want to dive in for more.
Overall it’s a decent smoky peat dram. The caramel gives it a dark & heavy feel rather than the crisp & clear taste of Peat Monster by Compass Box. It’s also way more balanced than Glen Marnoch where the smoke only just rises above the morass of caramel in the mix.