First Look: Smokehead

It is a great time to be a peat-freak. The popularity of the bold and smokey malts has lead producers to create an ever increasing variety of expressions for us to enjoy. We're seeing new heavily peated, some say over-peated expressions from many distilleries that are coming to us very young. That coupled with new peaty blends and blended malts and there is a flood of new tastes to explore.

The latest Islay to cross my desk is Smokehead. This one, from Ian Macleod Distillers has just barely made it to US shores and apparently is flying off store shelves. It bills itself as an Islay single malt Scotch whisky without an age statement or distiller, but don't let that fool you, this is a bottle worth having. I finally got a taste of this new immigrant this week, and you can too at Whiskies of the World on March 27th.

Posted in Submitted by Mark on Wed, 02/24/2010 - 17:05.

Smokehead launched in USA!

I've fallen a bit behind on the news recently, but I couldn't let this one pass by without comment. I can't wait to taste this one. It looks poised to fit well with the peat heavy monsters that have been coming out of Islay recently. It also took gold in its debut. More details below



December 2009; Ian Macleod Distillers is officially launching a brand new Scotch whisky into the USA aimed at the modern consumer.   

SMOKEHEAD is a contemporary, individual and exciting whisky, already available in premium bars and retailers across the UK and worldwide. 

Caol Ila Distiller's Edition Coming to America!

Not so long ago a friend of mine picked up a bottle at the whisky shop in heathrow airport. Litle did I know that it would become my absolute favorite whisky and cement Caol Ila as my favorite distillery. Talisker and Caol Ila are responsible for my appreciation of peated Scotch.

2009 looks to be a great year for Scotch in America. Diageo has announced their line of 2009 Rare Edtions to be released world wide and there are some beauties in there (which we will talk about as soon as we get some).

Here is what the official releases say about this wonderful whisky:

With its abundant fresh sea air and robust, yet easy going disposition, Islay is birthplace to a unique malt Scotch whisky named Caol Ila (pronounced “Cul-Ela”).

The Caol Ila Distillers Edition finished in Moscatel casks creates an extraordinarily stylish and complex expression of Caol Ila; the Moscatel cask wood not over-evident; richly flavoured yet also drying and finely balanced.

Posted in Submitted by Mark on Tue, 10/13/2009 - 17:01.

[UPDATE] Now we know what the hype is called...

UPDATE:  "sources in Scotland" have confirmed that the list below is accurate, but no concrete details on which malts will make it to us here in the states. Also Caol Ila DE is coming to the states in October. Here's hoping we get to sample some of these newsmakers at WhiskyFest SF 2009!

A couple of days ago John Hansel clued us all into something special coming from Diageo regarding their malt whiskys on the 4th of September. This always leads to rampant specuation and more than a few google searches. I don't know exactly what is coming, but at least it has a name now;

The Manager's Choice Single Cask Selection.

Posted in Submitted by Mark on Sun, 08/30/2009 - 21:35.

Whiskies of the world 2009

Every year in San Francisco there are two events that no serious whisky drinker could possibly miss. In October we have Malt Advocate's WhiskeyFest and in March Whiskies Of The World.

Posted in Submitted by Mark on Sun, 06/14/2009 - 15:19.

WhiskyFest San Francisco 2008

For those who don't already know, WhiskyFest is a great show put on by John Hansel and Malt Advocate Magazine. They hold 3 shows every year in Chicago, San Francisco and New York.

The focus is squarely on our favorite brown spirit and the products represented are predominantly whiskies. Brandy,  Vodka, liquers and Rum make appearances but are in the extreme minority.

For us, it's a whisky wonderland.

Every one of these shows has its own personality and character. Some of that comes from the format, some from the attendees and a health chunk comes from the sponsors. People like John Hansel and Riannon Walsh work very hard to keep these three forces in alignment and aimed in the right direction.

WhiskyFest is very much an industy showcase. The major players and minor importers are on the same footing here. Everyone has the same space to work with, but that doesn't imply that the presentations are at all equal.

Posted in Submitted by Mark on Mon, 11/10/2008 - 14:37.

Full Circle

Mark and I trace the genesis of our whiskey adventures back to a science fiction convention in March of last year, but perhaps the biggest watershed for us was attending WhiskeyFest San Francisco in 2007. WhiskeyFest is an annual event hosted by Malt Advocate Magazine in Chicago, New York and as of last year, San Francisco. They rent the ballroom of a major hotel and fill it with whiskey exhibitors to the tune of about 250 different bottles from all over the world. I wrote about one of our more colorful experiences there in The Teacher's Pet, but there were many more important moments from that night. Really, we went from drinking almost exclusively Irish whiskey to finding some of the most exceptional Bourbon, Scotch and world whiskies we've seen to this day.

Posted in Submitted by Mike on Tue, 10/21/2008 - 16:47.

Father's Day Buying Guide 2008

Father's Day is apon us again and what better time to get that special dad a bottle of something special. As a father of four myself, this guide for is a projection of what *I* want since there are no guidelines from a congressionally sponsored Government Institute Managing Mandatory Inferred Expression (GIMMIE?).

My first son was born in October of 1994 so this marks my 13th Father's Day. I thought that the perfect gift would be a bottle of whisk(e)y that is the same age as my fatherhood. The more I thought about this, the better I liked the idea. It has serious flaws for getting something affordable for my dad at 35 years but he doesn't like Scotch so I get off easy.

Posted in Submitted by Mark on Sat, 06/07/2008 - 10:51.

The Teacher's Pet

Every field and venture has it's dangers. Being a whisky afficianado is no exception, and while some are well known (having a dram too many of the Laphroig and drunk-dialing an ex) some are a bit more...exotic. As a for instance, last October my esteemed WhiskeyBro Mark and I were perusing the plethora of possible pours at WhiskeyFest SF. If there was a bit of stagger to our step, well, it had been a long night. We encountered the Dalmore table with gusto, but not quite as much as the fiery Scot who walked us through the tasting. In fact, "fiery" and "gusto" don't quite do justice to the force we reckoned with. Suffice to say that we did not treat the Scotch in front of us with sufficient gravity, which resulted in, well....ice chucking. That's right ladies and gentlemen, Richard Paterson himself, award-winning, third generation, master blender for Whyte & Mackay threw ice at my brother-in-law.

Posted in Submitted by Mike on Mon, 04/21/2008 - 21:10.

Elixir: April 24

Just to prove that we are real human beings, once again we will crawl out of the whiskey cellar back at HQ. This time to share a couple of great American whiskeys; Bulleit Bourbon and George Dickel. We'll be at the Elixir in San Francisco starting at 7pm and pouring until 9pm.
So come on down Mike and I will be sharing schwag, stories, and some great hooch!

Good News or Bad News

One of my idle daydreams is to take possession of and restart a silent distillery. The two news stories here and here point to good news for the Scotch industry but bad news for me and my idle daydreams.

Soaring demand for Scotch whisky around the world has prompted another major distiller to announce expansion plans, this time on Speyside.

Chivas Brothers yesterday said it was reopening its mothballed Braeval Distillery and extending its Glenlivet production plant.

Diageo is also adding capacity like crazy:

Work started recently on the £40million plant at Roseisle in Moray - part of a total £100million investment in whisky by Diageo.

as is everyone else in the industry:

Posted in Submitted by Mark on Tue, 03/04/2008 - 17:07.

Rob Roy Revisited

Ah blessed science.

To develop and select the Whiskey Bros. approved Rob Roy we need research. We pulled up the eight blended whiskys that we happen to have on hand: Buchannan 12, Chivas Regal 12 Chivas Regal 18, Famous Grouse, Johnnie Walker Black, Johnnie Walker Green, Johnnie Walker Red, And Suntory Hibiki for evaluation. We promptly put the Hibiki back away where it belongs, before my wife beat me.

The Rob Roy was First served at the Dorchester Hotel London, 1909 and Johnnie Walker was the Scotch of choice. Hence our inclusion of the three most common varieties of Johnnie Walker in this test.

We've decided to persue the "Perfect" Rob Roy, also known as Beal's Cocktail which is made with equal parts dry and sweet vermouth, a couple of dashes of bitters and Blended Scotch Whisky.

Posted in Submitted by Mark on Sat, 02/23/2008 - 16:35.

Trip Report: Whiskey Fund Raiser

Now that was fun!

 The day was rainy and somewhat miserable, but this didn't dampen our spirits at all. We were prepared for an entertaining evening where we were part of the main draw.

Mike and Mark with some of the favorites

Mike went down early to drop off the whiskey and to scope out the location while Mark was still working at his day job. There were many supplies that had still not ben acquired and they would have to come at the last minute like so much of this event.

Holiday Round Up

It's amazing how much writing can pile up in a short time. Even more amazing is how much a little cut can affect one's ability to write. So this will be my attempt to catch up on everything that has happened in the last few days.

Posted in Submitted by Mark on Thu, 12/27/2007 - 12:47.

The Box

A couple of months ago the whiskey collection here at Whiskey Bros HQ outgrew the very small confines of my liquor cabinet. My house is quite small and my liquor cabinet matches and the trouble required to get a bottle out for a taste-night was getting extreme. So I came up with a solution -- The Box.

It's a simple box now, just a record box that happened to be available at the time. It's now the home for our whiskey tasting collection. Every couple of weeks we add a new resident to the box and periodically a bottle will be finished. This will be a living page that tracks our private collection, tasting notes and reviews.

The Royal Court

These stand head and shoulders above the rest of our collection. Either in terms of quantitative greatness, or as emotional favorites.

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