The quality of the songwriting on Smoke & Strong Whiskey is comparable to most of Christy Moore's records, but the album suffers from overproduction. Producers Walter Samuel and Avert Abbing drown Moore's traditional Irish songs in electric guitars, electric pianos, synthesizers, saxophones, and horns. The lavish production is better-suited to some songs than others. "Burning Times" and "Blackjack County Chains" benefit from the dark slide guitar and Hammond organ treatments. But more often, the effect is either overbearing ("Welcome to the Cabaret") or outright hokey ("Encore"). The title track attempts to fit characteristically sharp-tongued Christy Moore lyrics ("Dia le hEireann suckle the empire, Dia le hEireann suffer the loss of the green to the blue while the media feeds on the blood and the pain and the hatred") into a twinkly, adult contemporary Mary Black arrangement. The most well-written tracks might be "Welcome to the Cabaret" and Shane MacGowan's "Fairytale of New York," but both are available in stronger versions on the 1994 album Live at the Point. Less devoted fans are probably better-served to pick up the live set and skip Smoke & Strong Whiskey.
AllMusic Review by Evan Cater