Ep. 111 - A Modern Drinking Glass Using Traditional Methods

ELLIOT WALKER & IAIN WEIR // Blowfish Glass and Smokehead

Listen to the Episode

Show Notes

In today's episode, Ian Weir from Ian McLeod (makers of Smokehead) and Elliot Walker from Blowfish Glass join me to talk whisky and glassware. We will delve into the traditional techniques used to create the glass, including the intricate process of hand-blowing glass. We also explore the origins of Smokehead single malt whisky, highlighting its distinctive smoky profile and tasting three expressions. We'll see how a specially designed Smokehead glass works versus my favorite Copita and the tumbler. It's a unique episode for Whiskey Lore: The Interviews, originally recorded for the YouTube channel. Hope you enjoy it.

Listen to the full episode with the player above or find it on Spotify, Apple or your favorite podcast app under "Whiskey Lore: The Interviews." The full transcript and resources talked about in this episode are available on the tab(s) above.

For More Information:


Drew Hannush (00:01.474)
Hello there, Drew Handish of Whiskey Lore and in an unusual place today, usually I'm in my whiskey parlor, but today I am up actually, uh, in my interview room because I have some guests in today and we're going to be talking about smokehead whiskey and we're going to be talking about a particular, uh, vessel that I received in the mail that is quite unique in the world of tasting glasses.

And this is an interesting subject because not that long ago, I actually did a video where I was talking about the two of glass coming from Ireland and talking about Glen Karen's and competed glasses and trying to figure out what is the perfect vessel for you to do tastings out of versus having just a nice drink out of the, out of the glass. And now I'm introducing a very unique looking glass here that we're going to get into and, uh, and discuss with the man who created this.

as well as the makers of the whiskey that I have sitting inside of it that we'll do a tasting of here in just a little bit. Uh, welcome to, uh, the podcast, Ian Weir of Ian McLeod and also, uh, Elliot Walker from Blowfish Glass. Welcome to, uh, welcome to the YouTube channel.

Iain Weir (01:17.153)
Thanks Drew.

elliot (01:17.252)
Hi, thanks for having us.

Drew Hannush (01:18.742)
Very good. It's great to have you here. And it's interesting, I was mentioning actually to Elliot ahead of time that we, in my Lost History of Tennessee Whiskey History book, I just put out, I did this deep dive into the process of making glass to say why whiskey wasn't bottled for a long period of time, a lot longer than we would have thought, mainly because of the techniques that are.

were required back then. There were no machines that were making whiskey bottles in the 17th century or the 18th century. It wasn't really until the 19th century that we started getting semi-automatic machines and not till the 20th century before we finally got some kind of molding and automatic glass producer. So, and here we're into a situation where we're gonna be talking about a glass that actually goes back to the old school techniques of.

hand blowing glass. So, um, I think that would be a good place for us to start before we jump in and start testing it out and seeing how whiskey comes across when, when you enjoy it through this, uh, through this unique type of glass. So, uh, give us kind of an idea, Elliot, uh, first of all of your background in terms of making glass and then how you came about creating this particular style of glass.

for Smokehead.

elliot (04:10.533)
over a thousand degrees and you're actually molding it and shaping it while it's in its liquid form. So I mainly work as a sculptor, but I do, you know, sort of very, very sort of specialized special sort of low volume runs of glasses every now and again. So this was a really, really special opportunity for me, something that I don't do very often and getting to design something completely from scratch, which was, you know,

had to be completely unique was a really exciting sort of prospect. Um, when you were talking before about mass manufacture and the molding of glass, so most sort of, of the glasses that you've mentioned and the bottles especially would have been produced in a mold. So they have like a rigid form out of steel. Um, it would have been, uh, traditionally made of plaster or wood. Um, the glasses that I've created with Smokehead are actually what is called, uh, off hand made.

So offhand basically means that there's no molds. You're just shaping the bubble, using breath from your mouth to inflate it, and then using a variety of metal tools, which haven't changed in the past sort of like thousand years, the tools that we're using to actually create these shapes. Um, so yeah, it was a very exciting sort of opportunity and rethinking something which is so iconic as a, as a whiskey glass. I mean, people think they know what they're.

getting when they think of a whiskey glass, you have your tasting glass, then you have your sort of traditional tumbler. Um, so starting from scratch with that, you know, was, was really sort of, um, difficult in a lot of ways, but thankfully, you know, smoke heads sort of, um, brand ethos sort of gave a lot of little, um, nods and, um, and indications about where the design could actually go, um, the process of designing was really interesting because we actually created three different

designs and then the smokers audience actually got to pick the one that was the winner. So we ended up with this smoke mask, which I think was the, you know, the best option for it and the most sort of, you know, integral to the brand really, you know, having this idea of it's a, it's an Islay whiskey. So it has that smoke. And so the idea of capturing all of that essence and really intensifying the experience when you're drinking the whiskey was.

elliot (06:30.033)
was a big, you know, a big sort of positive point for the design in the end.

Drew Hannush (06:34.913)
Did you have a particular glass that you were favoring before you got into working this out that maybe either trapped you in an idea that you were thinking it has to sort of go this way? Or...

elliot (06:52.337)
Well, it was, I mean, it was definitely like, you know, it was a collaborative effort on the design. Um, you know, I'm not a whiskey connoisseur by any sort of, uh, stretch of the imagination and the idea of like completely reinventing something I found really difficult, but luckily, you know, the, the team had a few ideas of their own and we quite sort of quickly sort of, we didn't settle on the design because obviously it was, it was chosen by the, uh, the Smokehead audience, but there was a clear favorite from, from the start really. And.

In terms of like the uniqueness of the design, this was the standout for us all, I think, really.

Drew Hannush (07:28.362)
Yeah, well, what's interesting about this is it gives you not only the, um, nosing experience and the tasting experience that you want to get out of a sophisticated drinking glass, but it also gives you a tumbler effect. So you can just sit here and enjoy a nice, good pour of your favorite whiskey, uh, which is not something that I ever do with a Capita. Uh, but yet I sort of feel like I'm missing part of the experience.

elliot (07:43.148)

Iain Weir (07:43.815)
Thank you.

Drew Hannush (07:55.426)
by not having a larger glass. And so, um, it's, it's really interesting. I have to tell you that when I first unboxed this, I just looked at it going, I don't even know where to start. It's like, where does my mouth go? Is this, uh, yeah.

elliot (07:58.135)

elliot (08:11.262)
Yeah, I mean, it could. Yeah, yeah. I mean, the clue is in the name, I guess, really. And once you actually do fit it to your face, it sort of makes sense. But yeah, I think a lot of people have thought, you know, you could like, sort of pour it into your mouth from a distance as well. But yeah, I mean, it does have a versatility to it. And the size as well, you know, it lends itself to, you know, to having it on the rocks or even to, you know, for making short.

Iain Weir (08:12.723)
Which end do I use?

Iain Weir (08:17.045)

Drew Hannush (08:18.138)
Ha ha ha.

elliot (08:35.861)
and stuff like that with it as well. So, you know, it's got that versatility. And, you know, we wanted to make something that was really handleable, you know, so it's tactile as well. It's got different textures on there. And I think the use of black glass was quite interesting as a choice as well, because that's quite unusual as well.

Drew Hannush (08:54.178)
Well, what's nice is that you can, I can do a tasting of a whiskey and not be, you know, I could do a blind tasting and not have to worry about, cause I was doing a tasting the other day of an Isla whiskey that is traditionally very, very light. I mean, it looks like white grape juice when you look at it in the glass. And I was doing a blind tasting on it, but it wasn't truly blind because I looked and I went, Oh, I know where that comes from.

elliot (09:01.631)
Uh-huh, yeah.

elliot (09:12.557)

elliot (09:20.945)
Yeah, yeah.

Drew Hannush (09:21.058)
You know, because I could sort of tell it was like it narrowed the field down for me to be able to figure it out. So that's another really nice advantage to using that black glass. So talk a little bit through the process of making the glass, because I think people would find that interesting to, uh, see what the real difference is.

elliot (09:40.729)
Yeah, sure. I mean, the there are steps and stages to making a hand blown piece of glass. I mean, in the studio itself, we have the usual equipment for glass blowing. So we have a furnace which we use to melt the glass itself. So that's got a big 90 kilo crucible in there and that's kept on all year and it keeps the glass liquid state basically all year. We top it up when it's when it gets low and just keep running it and running it.

We've got another chamber in the studio, which is just for reheating. When you're making something in a mold, you don't really need this second chamber because you basically pull the glass out as a liquid on the end of a blowing iron, inflate it a little bit, and then shove it in a mold, blow it into the shape, and then stick it away in the annealing oven. But obviously with something that is more complicated with separate elements, you need a chamber which you can go in and out and keep the glass at a sort of liquid state as you're working it.

The actual mass of the glass, the weight of it is made up of clear. So all of the glass that we melt is actually a pure crystal clear that we get from a company in Sweden. The color is added, it's glass as well, but it's added as a sort of veneer. So the bowl of the glass itself has got a thin layer of black, like really intense black glass on the inside of it. The foot has got

a thin layer of black glass on the outside of the clear. And then these sort of gold elements are made with a veneer of this very, very specialist reducing color. So the glass itself is made with different metal oxides and silver oxide has been used in the gold. And when you, at the end of the process, when you hit it with an oxygen low flame or a gas rich flame, it actually

changes that from silver oxide back into silver on the very surface. You know, I'm not a chemist, but that's how it's been explained to me. So it is actually a metallic finish that's given on the outside of the glass. This is a chunk of the black, so we buy it in rods, sort of like a painter would buy like a tuba paint. So this is how it comes in its raw form. We smash a little bit.

Drew Hannush (11:38.65)
back in the silver on the very surface, you know, I've got a kelly's fin. Ha ha ha.

elliot (12:00.049)
off the end of that and then we use that to make each glass. The textures are applied in various different ways and they're very simple tools so this zip texture on the on the gas mask filter has actually been done with a cog welded to the end of a bit of metal so it's all really low tech. The real trick is working with your assistant to get the

Drew Hannush (12:17.38)

elliot (12:23.777)
the application right, because it's very, very difficult to get a nice, even sort of zip applied, and you always have to work with a second person. So you have to be really, really in tune and get your timings just right. The final thing I'd say about the design of this glass is, which it seems so simple, but it caused us so many problems, is this sort of slightly skew rim, you know, to make it have the feel of a gas mask, a smoke mask, we had to have that sort of, that

Drew Hannush (12:50.795)

elliot (12:52.589)
tilt in the rim and that involves using a pair of scissors to actually cut the rim of the glass on a squiff and then trying to melt it all back in and then putting the final form into it. So it was a really tricky sort of design to make but you know it's well worth the effort I think.

Drew Hannush (13:12.118)
And every glass will be unique because you're actually not molding it. Yeah.

elliot (13:14.525)
Absolutely. Exactly. Yeah, yeah, and they are all unique. I mean this one here didn't quite make the cut because it's a bit small but you know it's still perfectly functional so that one's mine.

Drew Hannush (13:22.253)

Iain Weir (13:26.357)
Ha ha ha.

Drew Hannush (13:27.235)
Very nice. Does it give you an appreciation when you do things this way to the way people used to have to make these? I mean, the fact that they would have to stay up all night trying to stoke the fires just to get the kiln warm enough to be able to melt the glass.

elliot (13:43.981)

Yeah, well, I've actually recently done a project in Spain where we were using a wood fired furnace. And it is such a different, it's such a different mentality. I mean, luckily enough for me, I can come in the morning, I can switch on the equipment and I can get going. But having to stoke a fire throughout the night into the early hours of the morning, just so you could then start working was, yeah, it's, yeah. I mean, we haven't changed much in the way we do things, but there's definitely, you know, a difference in that respect.

Drew Hannush (14:16.966)
So Ian, were you surprised by the look of this? How was this taken initially when you saw the first prototype of this?

Iain Weir (14:25.117)
Yeah, I think surprised but delighted. I mean, this is really what Smokehead's all about for us. I mean, we've tried with Smokehead really to rethink single malt whiskey in some ways. So the next obvious step was logical step was really to rethink drinking itself. The Smokehead brand is very much about attitude. It's about trying to do things differently. It's about...

opening single mall up to a wider audience. It's really enjoying, enjoying Smokehead the way you want to. You know, as Elliot was saying, whether that's on its own, with ice, in a cocktail. So really we were looking for a glass that could do all of these things. And so when I saw it, I just went, yeah, that is Smokehead, the smoke mask. It just was the...

the perfect rethinking of drinking, in my opinion.

Drew Hannush (15:24.014)
Well, before we put this through its paces, let us talk a little bit about Smokehead, the brand, and how it originated. And you're selling single malt whiskey. I don't think that a lot of people probably, when they see the name Smokehead, they may think that this is a blended whiskey of some form, but this is a single malt. Give us a little background on it.

Iain Weir (15:44.817)
Absolutely, no, it's definitely an Isla single malt. I mean, first things first with Smokehead, it is a, you know, a very high quality Isla single malt, you know, wins a lot of awards globally, sits comfortably alongside, you know, many Isla whiskies that you've maybe heard of, the likes of the Beaumonts, the Artbegs, the Langevullens of this world.

Iain Weir (16:10.341)
But the great thing about Smokehead is, we really wanted to create a whiskey that had all that quality, but then really had real attitude. It really is for those that wanna look at single malt slightly differently, maybe don't necessarily want all the tradition, the heritage, the provenance. They wanted a whiskey that really spoke to them, that was maybe slightly more modern in its positioning.

Drew Hannush (16:19.74)

Iain Weir (16:35.877)
You know, very free when it came to how you enjoy your whiskey. Really, it's your whiskey. You enjoy it the way you want to. So we've always said if you want to go with cocktails, then feel free. And, you know, the really interesting thing about the brand is the consumer is really at the heart of this brand, Drew, because Smokehead is the name that we've given for people who like smokey, peaty whiskey. We call them a smokehead. So we basically name the brand after our audience.

and we see them as edgy, you know, they've got an attitude and they're looking for something, as I said, a bit different. And we think Smokehead can offer that. It's the kind of brand that, you know, we definitely don't want to be vanilla. We like to split opinion. We like to create an attitude where you either love us or you hate us. And there's something to be said about Islay Whiskey is a bit like that. It's smoky, it's peaty.

Drew Hannush (17:25.75)
where you are the lovers and you're haters. And there's something to be said about Islay Whiskey, it's a bit like that. It's smoky, it's giddy, it's either, you know, the greatest whiskey in the world... Ha ha ha.

Iain Weir (17:33.589)
It's either the greatest whiskey in the world and you find the whiskey you love, or for other people it's, you know, I hate this, this is really not my kind of whiskey. And therefore, you know, you're better going on to the mainland and finding a Speyside or a Highland or a Lowland whiskey. So we like to split opinion and I think Smokehead does that. But it's...

Drew Hannush (17:54.467)
So in terms of trying to, well, in terms of trying to create that, that smoke profile, in terms of distilling, what is the, is the, is it more in the, the grains that you're using and how much you're feeding, you know, what the PPM is on this or distilling techniques? What is it that you're doing to help you kind of pump up that, that smoke profile?

Iain Weir (18:19.841)
It's exactly as you said, Drew, it's the PPM. So it's basically, you know, it's in the kiln itself, traditionally as they do on Islay, you know, utilizing the peat smoke. We never ever say the level of PPM. The reason for that is Smokehead is from a mystery distillery on Islay. It always has been, Drew. So from our perspective, we love that fact that...

You know, Smokehead, you know, gains an awful lot of feedback and social media from a lot of people who just wonder, well, which distillery does it come from? And we never say and if we gave you the PPM, then obviously we give you quite a good opportunity to maybe work out the distillery it's from. We just see it as Smokehead, you know, from a fantastic distillery on Islay. And as I said, yeah, it's all about the traditional peating process that creates that lovely

elliot (19:02.902)

Iain Weir (19:18.225)
smoky, peaty, phenolic characteristics that you get from those Islay whiskeys that we all love.

Drew Hannush (19:26.234)
So you kind of could tell I was trying to sneak the answer out of you. Cause this is the fun of some of these, especially when I, and that's why I pointed out that it was a single mall because it does all of a sudden take the true Isla whiskey fan into that realm of, okay, let me see if I can pick out characteristics that are going to tell me which distillery this comes from, which is part of the fun of, of nosing and tasting any whiskey.

Iain Weir (19:29.932)

Iain Weir (19:53.697)
We know we love it. I mean, you know, we love people coming back to us on social media, comparing and contrasting. Oh, we think we know what it is. Is it X? Is it Y? Is it Z? And, you know, my stock answer is if I tell you, I have to kill you. So, you know, I'm a marketeer. I don't want to kill a consumer. So, no, you know, I just say, look, as long as you're enjoying it, as far as we're concerned, it's Smokehead. If you're enjoying it, then you're enjoying Smokehead. And that's what makes us happy.

Drew Hannush (20:06.76)

Drew Hannush (20:19.83)
Very nice. Well, the first one I have in my glass is the flagship. I would suppose is the way we're going to call this. This is the smoke ed, uh, I'll single malt. And, um, of course now everybody gets to see a demonstration. This truly is a smoke mask. It was really interesting. Did you have, uh, issues in trying to figure out what to name this thing?

elliot (20:36.052)
Thank you.

Iain Weir (20:36.129)
That's it.

elliot (20:44.646)
I know. Not really.

Iain Weir (20:47.834)
The name came pretty quickly, didn't it? I mean, I think, I mean, again, Elliot can speak better than me on the on the design. But what I loved about it when I saw it was it just first off, it just showed you smoke head to me. But then what I loved about it was the fact that it really accentuates the characteristics of the whiskey. You know, that smokiness, that peediness, you're getting that on the palate. But then we're basically, you know, involving the nose fully as well. So

I don't think we can give you more of a sensation of Isla Single Mold than through that glass. For me that is 110%.

elliot (21:22.193)
It's everything at the same time as well. Isn't it? It's everything at the same time because normally, you know, you do the nosing and then you taste, but it's you can't escape it at all.

Drew Hannush (21:32.522)
Yeah. Well, this is what's interesting about this is normally I do some pretasting before I go in and do one of these. But I thought, you know what? I really want to kind of take this from the start and, and get my own kind of personal reaction to, um, how, uh, what the whiskey tastes like. I must say though, I did test this glass out the other day on some rum and I was surprised at how it just absolutely captured everything and put it.

where it could not escape. And that's great because with this whiskey, as it was sitting here, I've had it in my glass ever since we started this conversation. And that open mouth, really, I can smell that smoke all the way from it sitting on the table up to here. So that wide mouth, that's something that you kind of get out of the tumbler. But the problem with the tumbler is that once you start to drink it, it's like the smell does not

elliot (22:03.753)

Drew Hannush (22:31.578)
concentrate necessarily on your nose and there's gaps to the side that are going to allow some of that scent to escape. And I think, I think that's the thing that when I first started tasting whiskey, realizing the connection between the nose and the palate, and that even when you are drinking the whiskey, your nose is still working and even before you drink it, um, and you're just nosing it.

elliot (22:40.522)

Drew Hannush (22:58.222)
getting the vapors into your mouth is also a huge plus. So it's kind of solving both of those in one.

Iain Weir (23:07.201)
Well, I think they, yeah, absolutely right, Drew. I mean, I think the great thing about the glasses, yeah, you're getting everything you'd expect from the glass on the palette. But for me, the nose is far more sensitive than the palette. It's why, it's the reason why whiskey blenders and those that create these beautiful perfumes in France and so on, they're called the nosies. They're basically, they're using their nose because it's a lot more sensitive. You can pick up a lot more characteristics.

about the whisky itself. So, you know, our blenders here at Ian McLeod Distillers, I mean, you know, they're not drinking all day, but they're nosing a lot of the time. So to be able to create that combination of glass, as I said, I think you're getting the full experience then of Smokehead, which is what we really wanted to give to people. Hopefully, in some ways, you know, you really are being taken to the, you know, to the island itself. You're on Islay.

elliot (23:47.489)
Thank you.

Iain Weir (24:05.429)
You're enjoying the peach smoke, you're enjoying the winds that come through Islay and the saltiness and everything else, that maritime sort of feel that you get. It's all there in the glass. So really giving people a real experience.

Drew Hannush (24:20.162)
I think what I like about this whiskey is that it gives you the smoke and the smoke is intense. It's not overly intense and it isn't as medicinal as some Islay whiskies can be. So I think it actually makes it more approachable for people who want to kind of step into that have experienced kind of that smell of barbecue and they like that smoked meat kind of smell that when they nose this.

It's going to give them that much less than it's going to give. Uh, if you're drinking a Laphroa or, you know, uh, Kilhollman, McCurby, which is going to give up much more of a iodiney kind of medicinal note to it.

Iain Weir (25:03.953)
Exactly, Drew. I mean, that's what I love about Smokehead. I think that's what surprises and excites a lot of consumers. It's, Smokehead's a bit of a roller coaster. You know, you're getting that peatiness, that smokiness, those phenolic characteristics that you expect from Islay, but there's a really nice sweetness there as well. So this is not a one-dimensional whiskey. It is not just all about peach smoke. Yeah, that's coming through, you know, it slaps you at the beginning. It'll slap you again as you continue to drink it.

but there's a lovely sweetness in there too, this complexity. And that's why, as I said, I think it's a great Isla Single Malt, and this glass just really brings out the best in it.

Drew Hannush (25:41.046)
Yeah. Nice little bit of pepperiness on the finish. But again, nothing to me is like overly aggressive. Um, the smoke is definitely the star of the show. Um, but it's not an overwhelming experience, which I think when you look at the branding sometimes and you see the, uh, the, the skull and the rest, you might expect that this thing's going to blow your head off. Um, but I'm, I really am a, a fan of the, uh, the balance between.

Iain Weir (26:00.16)
I'm gonna go.

elliot (26:03.06)
I'm going to go ahead and turn it off.

Drew Hannush (26:10.039)
everything in this whiskey.

Iain Weir (26:12.088)
Good, no that's great, thank you.

Drew Hannush (26:14.274)
So I'm going to give you the one drawback to this glass that I found when I was doing my, uh, nosing and tasting of rum because then I shifted to a whiskey and I real quickly realized that, um, you have to really clean this entire glass out to get the smell out of it for your next whiskey. That's the, that is the only challenge I had because I took the rum out, put the whiskey in and I'm like,

Iain Weir (26:17.773)

elliot (26:34.641)

Drew Hannush (26:39.706)
Wow, there's not really a rum influence on this whiskey, but I'm picking one up now all of a sudden, so...

elliot (26:44.716)
Oh wow. Maybe the black glass is a bit sticky, I mean.

Drew Hannush (26:48.686)
Could be, it could be. So the next one is I'm going to, usually you put the, uh, high octane whiskey at the end, but since we're in the same family, um, and with that coating of the glass in mind, I'm going to jump in and do the, uh, high voltage. So talk about the high voltage whiskey.

Iain Weir (27:01.206)

Iain Weir (27:11.333)
The high voltage. Yeah, yeah, so this is really the Smokehead original that you initially tried, which was at 43%. You've now got the high voltage, which is at 58%. So, you know, this has some real punch about it, this whiskey. But what I love about it is you'd expect a 58% volume whiskey, I think, to be quite strong and maybe even quite prickly on the nose and on the palate.

I actually think there's a really nice smooth, smoothness to this whiskey. It's also because of its strength, a great whiskey for mixing. So, you know, if you've got some cocktails, you know, and you're looking to, to put smoke head into a cocktail, then obviously with its strength, it really does come up to the task. One of my favorites, I have to say, Drew.

Drew Hannush (27:59.562)
It's interesting because you would expect logically that a whiskey is probably going to get more intense with the smoke, the higher the ABV, but I've actually found like with an octomore or any of those whiskies, when you start doing the higher alcohol, uh, it tends to, um, bring everything up kind of to the same level. It doesn't really enhance the smoke. Sometimes the smoke kind of, uh, backs off just, just a little bit.

Iain Weir (28:26.013)
Yeah, exactly, exactly. And I still think there's, you know, hopefully that smoothness, that sweetness that you were getting as well from the original, it's hopefully still coming through. So, no, it's one of the real surprise whiskies, I think, in the range, because a lot of people are maybe somewhat put off by the 58 percent. But then all of a sudden, you know, they try it and they go, wow, you know, this is this is really this is really smooth. This is a pretty easy drinking whiskey for what is 58 percent vol.

Drew Hannush (28:34.616)

Drew Hannush (28:55.798)
Yeah, you feel the heat a bit more on the top of your tongue when you're, and the pepperiness really kind of, they call it the Kentucky hug here. The idea that you get this warmth down in your chest when you drink a, a corn whiskey. Well, this kind of, you feel that warmth going down. It's probably perfect for this time of year actually, when we're in the middle of winter to drink something that's going to give you that warmth on the way down. Um, but yeah, no, it's not aggressive at all. It's 56%.

Iain Weir (28:57.805)

Iain Weir (29:04.427)

Iain Weir (29:16.176)

Iain Weir (29:25.613)
58%. So an all ex-Burban cask matured, Drew. So, you know, obviously you've got all the fantastic characteristics that you'd expect from, you know, from great Bourbon casks as well. You've got that vanilla, you've got those tropical flavours coming through too. So again, I think that just adds to the character and the complexity.

Drew Hannush (29:26.882)
58%, okay.

Drew Hannush (29:46.914)
Yeah, it's interesting that the barrel notes seem to be a little bit more pronounced maybe in this version than in the other. Yeah, yeah. It's really interesting. Yeah, very surprising when you start getting into those ABVs, but it definitely shows good distillate when you can produce it and age it that way and be able to put it out at a high ABV and have it be that drinkable. So well, let's talk then about the last one, which is the rum.

Iain Weir (29:52.437)
Mm-hmm. Yeah.

Drew Hannush (30:16.654)
cask. I'm going to finish this one before I, uh, before I pour that.

Iain Weir (30:20.966)
Yeah, no, that's fine. Well, while you're doing that, yeah, I mean, it's the rum cask, the rum cask finish or rum rebel as we like to call it. This time, this time you're at 46 percent. So you're sort of somewhere in between, if you like, the first and the first and the second. This really reflects the brand's innovative nature.

which again I think the glass really reflects as well. But what we like to do at Smokehead is we like to innovate, we like to play around with the whiskey, play around with finishes within the regulations that have been set by the Scotch Whiskey Association. But what I love about the rum finishes, I think you get a lovely sweetness coming through. I think it maybe slightly smooths the edges off the original Smokehead.

Drew Hannush (31:17.184)

Iain Weir (31:17.185)
And of course, you know, you're getting, you know, the Caribbean rum cast. So, you know, your tropical fruits, your sunshine, your beaches, you know, they're all they're all coming through as well. So, you know, sort of takes you off to the Caribbean.

Drew Hannush (31:31.851)
Bringing you the sunshine amidst the rain showers of Scotland. Yes, nice.

Iain Weir (31:34.969)
Exactly. Perfect for the winter. You can start thinking about summer.

Drew Hannush (31:39.902)
I was there in October in Scotland and I'll tell you, I've never seen so much rain. It was pretty rainy that time. Whereas my first two trips to Scotland, I didn't see a rain shower at all, which was absolutely amazing.

Iain Weir (31:44.436)

Iain Weir (31:53.809)
Well that's what keeps it green you see Drew, is all the rain. And of course as we always say, if you didn't have rain, you wouldn't have scorch. So we need that water.

Drew Hannush (32:02.701)
Yeah. And I have done, I've tasted your sherry cask version, which I really enjoy that too, if you can get a really good mix of, of sherry and smoke, uh, it is, it's a brilliant combination.

Iain Weir (32:07.553)
No, thank you.

Iain Weir (32:15.145)
No, thank you. Well, with the rum finish as well, Drew, I mean, there are no actual set guidelines to how long you need to finish a whiskey, but we finish in rum cast for about six to nine months. And that's similar as well for the sherry finish that you were mentioning. We do the same in the all or also cast. Because what we're trying to do is create a balance. So first and foremost, when we finish a whiskey, first and foremost, we're still wanting to serve you a whiskey. So we're not serving you a rum, we're not serving you a sherry.

Yes, we want that to add to the flavor, to the character, to the experience, but ultimately first and foremost, it's still smoke head. So we look for our blender, and he's doing that with his nose to really find for us that fine balance where they're creating a fantastic whiskey, but he's just giving you something a bit different on the finish.

Drew Hannush (33:04.302)
Do you find that you have to sort of short age when you're doing these, these finishes, um, in those finishing barrels to try to keep it from overtaking the smoke completely?

Iain Weir (33:17.365)
Yeah, no, absolutely. It is very much a balancing act. As I said, around six to nine months tends to be the sweet spot. Any longer than that, and you can find that, yeah, all of a sudden maybe the finish takes over from the whiskey, and then you just, you lose the innate character and DNA of smokehead. So yeah, it's something that, as I said, is a real skill of our team, of our blend, is that...

Drew Hannush (33:38.68)

Iain Weir (33:45.454)
they'll keep testing, keep trialing the whiskey and find that sweet spot, which as I said, around about six to nine months for the smokehead.

Drew Hannush (33:54.506)
I think this mellows it on the palate, but it also sort of brings out the citrus and kind of a banana note in there as well. Whereas with the first whiskey, I was getting almost a dark chocolate note at some points on the finish of the whiskey. So maybe for the person who was looking for the smoke, but they also want, I want to say a more muted kind of an experience, but I hate using the word smooth, but it's...

Iain Weir (34:01.165)
That's it.

Drew Hannush (34:22.81)
It does kind of ease down on the palette a little bit in terms of the finish on it.

Iain Weir (34:28.445)
It does. I couldn't agree more. I think for some people they might argue it's sort of, again, yes, sorry, using the word smooth, but maybe smooths out some of the rougher edges that you maybe get on a more sort of pure Islay whiskey, that smokiness, that piddiness. It just brings that back a wee bit. I don't think in any way you lose the overall character.

but it just builds a wee bit more of that silkiness and that sweetness that a lot of people maybe prefer. So in some ways maybe makes the whiskey slightly more approachable for certain consumers. But I'm glad you brought out chocolate as well. We actually do a twisted stout as well, Finnish, which we'll need to send to you, Drew. And that is smokehead finished in mocha stout cask. So...

Drew Hannush (35:13.317)

Drew Hannush (35:21.452)

Iain Weir (35:21.745)
If you're wanting that chocolatey finish, then you'll definitely get that in that whiskey. Perfect for the craft beer expert, they love it.

Drew Hannush (35:27.118)
Very nice.

You're speaking my language. I'm a Guinness fan. I actually had just, when I was in Scotland last time, was introduced to Bellhaven and their Dark Porter, which is amazing and it has nice malty character to it. And so it's a great combination.

Iain Weir (35:41.677)

Iain Weir (35:47.942)
They brew that just down the coast from where I am now, down in Dunbar. Yeah, great. It is great beer.

Drew Hannush (35:54.058)
Yes. All right. Well, uh, let's talk a little bit, first of all, about availability and kind of price points on these, these whiskies.

Iain Weir (36:02.413)
Yep, so availability, you know, our biggest retailer in the US is Total Wine & More. So certainly if you've got a local Total Wine & More store, you'll get all the smokehead. They've been great, great supporters of us. Price wise, basically, you know, the pricing is really very similar to the competitive set. So.

You know, if you're already drinking the likes of LaFroix and the Beaumonts of this world, then you're gonna be paying similar prices, maybe slightly less. But, you know, as you rightly said, Drew, first and foremost, you know, you are drinking a really, really good Isla single malt. So obviously you're paying single malt pricing. But we think it's, you know, very approachable for the quality that we're giving.

Drew Hannush (36:53.778)
Well, and for this glass, I would imagine that since it's a handmade, it's probably not going to be in every single store that you jump out to. How do you go about finding this, uh, fascinating and actually very effective drinking glass.

Iain Weir (37:01.805)
I'm going to go ahead and close the video.

Iain Weir (37:08.181)
Yeah, I've got to say that is a lot harder to find. You know, obviously, as you know, Elliot was only able to make a, what was it, 300 of those glasses, I think we got in the end, Elliot.

elliot (37:21.212)
Yeah, that was quite a lot for us really, you know.

Drew Hannush (37:23.255)

Iain Weir (37:24.85)
Yeah, it was. So they really are a collector's item. They're really, you know, we sent a few out to key VIPs like yourself, Drew. And what we are hoping to do though, working with, we've got Elliot's consent to do this, working with Elliot is hopefully try and commercialize the glass, commercialize the shape of the glass so we can bring it to a much wider audience. So here's hoping Christmas this year, there might be a.

Smokehead gift pack with one of those glasses in it and you can have the experience that you're enjoying at the moment, Drew.

Drew Hannush (37:57.194)
Well, it's brilliant and I appreciate people who are trying to bring a stronger nosing and tasting experience because I can tell you when I started this channel originally, I was not great at nosing and tasting whiskeys and I needed all the help I could get to kind of concentrate those vapors on the nose. And I have also found, and this will probably solve that particular issue, is that when I go from room to room.

I get a different nosing and tasting experience. If it's a dark room, if it's in the front of the house with a lot of sunshine coming in, all of those things will have a different, or if I'm doing it in the kitchen, then I'm picking up some of the scents from the kitchen and that's interrupting my experience. So this really is getting you out of that particular situation and bringing you into a world where you are at one with your whiskey. So I think it's a great glass for doing that.

Iain Weir (38:57.109)
No, thank you. Yeah, yeah, I think it really does focus the senses, doesn't it? So yeah, no, Elliot, great job, my friend. Thank you so much.

elliot (39:05.297)
Thank you.

Drew Hannush (39:06.23)
Yes, well, cheers to you both and thank you so much for providing me with this one of a kind glass and cheers.

elliot (39:14.516)

Iain Weir (39:14.965)
Leicester Drew, enjoy, thanks so much.

Listen To More Interviews