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Tuesday, 15 June 2010


Last couple of nights i've been passing by the Nicholas chain of off-licenses - they have a surprisingly good selection of whiskies. Perusing the Islay shelf, I noticed a vatted malt, which i've not come across before - Smokey Joe.

As it happens, the very friendly manager in the Mayfair branch happened to have a bottle open, so I thought i'd dive in for a little tasting. The bottling is done especially by Angus Dundee, at 46% abv and is non chill-filtered. You should be able to find this at under £30 in a few retailers, (including Nicholas) which is why it is our Reasonably Priced Dram Of The Week.

Smokey Joe - Vatted Islay malt - 46% abv

Nose: Initially very spirity, but easing into some very youthful blasts of iodiney peat reek, smoldering sawdust and a slightly sweet notes of white sugar and banana candies. Not bad, if a tad on the young side. To hazard a guess, i'd say there's a proportion of young Ardbeg, some Bunnahabhain and maybe even a little Laphroaig- but we could be way off (thinking back to the blind nosing competition we did on Islay recently.)

Palate: Sharp, biting and a little raw, but give it time and the obvious youth starts to calm down - sweet into citrus and more wood smoke, with a merest hint of medicinal peat start to arrive on the palate. With water- and this really starts to come alive. The peat seeps through in a much more gentle fashion and is really quite elegant and precise. A surprise.

Finish: The smoke leads into a clean, malty finish.

Overall: Not the most developed of vattings we've ever tried, but very drinkable and dare I say, quite appealing to those trying a peated whisky for the first time. It sits in a similar price category to the excellent Smokehead, so will have some stiff competition, but definitely worth seeking out if you can't get enough of the brown stuff.