Smokehead Terminado

I’ll admit to having an overly full liquor cabinet at home… just for samples. At the beginning of my whisky journey I bought a whole lot of samples, with the idea to review them all. I also got a lot of samples from my fellow whisky lovers, as there’s a vigorous back and forth of samples between me and my whisky friends. Today I discovered this Smokehead Terminado sitting on the shelves that I got from good friend Herbert Roenhorst quite some time ago. And I figured it was high time for a review.

Now I have to admit perhaps putting of this review a bit because this Smokehead Terminado has a tequila cask finish. A finish that has not very often been a hit for me. I still feel like a very good Deanston 15 year old was wasted by such a cask. On the other hand I did like the mezcal finish on the Stauning Bastard. So perhaps there’s hope for this dram yet?

Smokehead is one of the brands from Ian Macleod, an independent bottler. And while I personally prefer more classic labels, and thus this brand always seem to have less of a pull for me, I must admit the spirit is often great. Smokehead bottles Islay Single Malts and often present a much better price/quality ratio than the distilleries themselves. I might not be a fan of tequila casks, but it worked well enough on the most recent Lagavulin Special Release, so who knows… this might be a hit for me after all. Let’s find out in the review!

Tasting Notes – Smokehead Terminado Tequila Cask Finish

ABV: 43% (86 proof)
Age: NAS
Distillery: Unknown
Chill-filtered: Officially unknown, but I assume so…
Natural Colour: No

Praise be, it’s peaty! I’m getting mostly peaty notes on the nose of this dram and that always scores points in my book. Vegetal notes of moss mingle with tar and lightly charred strips of beef. There are some minimal citrus notes in here that vaguely remind me of a good quality tequila or mezcal. But that might as well be written of as the power of impression. There’s some surprisingly floral notes to this dram as well, with roses coming to mind in particular. All-in-all a surprisingly pleasant nose!

Waves of sweet and peat flow across the palate as you sip this dram. Though I must admit it falls a bit short here for me. I’m liking the roast beef, peppercorn, and smokey notes I’m finding here. But the sweetness is a bit a let down. It reminds me a bit of cheap lemonade, with splashes of orange and pear. And it all feels a bit thin. But perhaps that’s just because of the ABV as my palate is more used to higher proof whiskies. Then again… I had no such issue with the Lagavulin 16.

Everything I was missing in the palate hits me in the finish. Which is rather odd, as there’s not many drams that have had that effect for me. Here I’m finding luscious amounts of peat, with charred meats, cigar ashes, tar, iodine and salted liquorice. The lighter fruit flavours from the palate have all but gone. Sadly enough the finish is rather short though, and leaves you with a rather dry and bittersweet mouthfeel. Still, that initial wave of peat was impressive though!

I found another Tequila Cask that I like! Or perhaps I should say that I don’t mind sipping on from time to time. I won’t be looking to buy a bottle, but I’d happily accept another glass if offered. This whisky very much falls in the same category for me as the Lagavulin 2023 special release. I don’t think the finish adds or takes away all that much from the end product. But if the product was good to begin with, that’s fine by me!

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