It’s been awhile since I’ve been able to take a vacation. I won’t go into detail, but let’s just say I was a department of one for awhile while going to school at the same time. It was… the reason I posted less for a while in 2020 and 2021.
So we got dressed up in our Sunday finest and headed out to a street in a large city to walk around, enjoy restaurants, and whatnot.
Now normally when I’m on vacation, the obvious breaks in these walking/shopping is to stop by a pub that has whiskies I can’t normally have. However I’m in Ontario, which means any pubs I stop at are not exactly spending more money on whisky, because you can hook up 4 taps and serve chicken fingers for $20 and most Canadians will think it’s a nice place.
God our bar culture is trash.
Anyway, while walking, I noticed a place called Bar Hop that was advertising a good whisky list. Since two of my mainstay locations have recently started running out of interesting whisky, this seemed like a good thing.
To their credit they had whiskies I haven’t reviewed. Sure, it’s everything the LCBO (our local anti-alcohol province run alcohol distributor monopoly) has had, with the prices, but it’s a lot of it. A newer, less jaded and liver hurt whisky fan could stick around for a while. Also the deep fried pickles are less than $20 and have a good amount of dill to them (eaten after the review).
They also had Smokehead Sherry Bomb. Now Smokehead has pointed out before they source from an Islay distillery and release the products in skull-labeled cases. Simple enough, right? People want Islay, people want something that looks cool on the shelf, and some angry, ill-communicating men have informed me they drive their partners’ away with the smell. Win, win, crying alone in a one-bedroom and never seeing your kids again, right?
Not to mention all casks used in this were Oloroso Sherry casks. Sherry and peat? I’m down. Not to mention it’s a decent abv. for a standard release.
How does it taste though? Was I just happy to find a bar that didn’t totally suck in my totally shitty bar environment of Toronto? Let’s see, shall we?
Price: $150.25 CAD
Bottled: October 16, 2018
Cask type: Spanish Oloroso Sherry Casks
Number of bottles: 18,000
Colour: 5YR 6/10
Nose: Peat, herbal, brine, rubber, anise
More rubber and brine than what I’d describe as a “Sherry Bomb”. At least on the nose. It’s like the sherry casks have added the anise to the whole thing, or maybe they didn’t. It’s hard to say, because anise is a note I get from non-sherry peated whiskies.
So either the casks, which were called out, didn’t do much to the nose, OR they did add a bunch of anise, which is nice.
Taste: Anise, earth, cloves, brine, plum
Ok, I’m starting to think the additional (and some would say, majority of) flavours is the sherry now. Lots of spice, with earth and brine being what I think is the Islay spirit. Again, I’m just guessing, and with time there was some plum.
Again, I wouldn’t associate this with a “sherry bomb”, as it’s missing more of the fruitiness.
Finish: Anise, salt, ginger, smoke, oak/thyme
Medium length finish, and good continuation of the flavours: Spice, smoke, and salt. So it’s like having a decent BBQ, but not Texas BBQ, as there’s less molasses going on that I associate with BBQ sauce that’s mopped on.
I feel like I’m overexplaining things. Perhaps I’ll deal with that at another time.
Conclusion: Wish it had more sherry to it, which is not the greatest way to explain something called “Sherry Bomb”. So my main criticism is that this whisky isn’t named well.
Let’s ignore that, because roses and Shakespeare and something about sweets. No, let’s get to the whisky itself, and I actually liked it. It’s a very spice forward peated whisky, and while you won’t get the red fruit blend with smoke, or the mix of salty and sweet that makes peat and sherry work, what you do get is a good spice bomb.
As someone who loves Autumnal spices, that’s right up my alley. So if you’re having trouble finding peated whisky, this is worth it, as it’s quite tasty, hits all the right notes. If you’re looking for a replacement for other sherry forward peated whiskies? It’s not going to do the same thing as them, so probably skip if that’s what you’re looking for.
Scotch review #1549, Islay review #401, Whisky Network review #2270