Sample received from /u/bieliebielie via /r/ScotchSwap on reddit.
I don’t think I’ve reviewed an Octomore on here before. Octomore is the most heavily peated expression from Bruichladdich and was born of an expremient by Jim McEwan and Mark Reynier where they tried to get hold of the most heavily peated barley possible and made whisky with it.
The average level of peat for what is considered a heavily peated whisky is around 50 ppm (parts per million, referring to the phenols the peat imparts to the peated barley). Levels started to go up, beginning at a modest 80 ppm and having now exceeded 300 ppm (EDIT: I was wrong about this, don’t know why I had that number in my head, so far the highest level they’ve reached is 268 ppm, thanks to /u/Rallerboy888 on reddit for the correction).
There is a fair amount of debate surrounding this topic, such as the huge differences in peat levels that can occur between when it’s measured from the malted barley, and the final distilled product. Another issue is that the increasing levels of peat are not as distinguishable once a certain threshold is passed (i.e. the difference between 25 ppm and 50ppm is much more noticeable than between 50 ppm and 100 ppm).
This still makes for some damn interesting experimentation and this stuff is aimed at the real hardcore geeks among whisky drinkers. There’s also a numbering system, the first indicating the release, and the second indicating cask type or other specific quirk, for example .1 is ex bourbon, .2 is wine .3 is Islay grown barley and so on. Geeky geeky stuff.
The only issue I really have with the Octomore series is their price, they are insanely expensive, especially considering they aren’t really aged much (5-10 years). They’re good whisky, but you’re really paying for the gimmick here.
This one was a travel retail exclusive released last year, and was matured in American Oak and Rhône Syrah casks. It was peated to a whopping 208 ppm.
Aged 5 years. 58.5%ABV. Matured in American Oak and Rhône Syrah casks. No colourant added, non-chill filtered and bottled at cask strength.
Nose: Wood smoke. Acacia sap. Glazed meats. Plum sauce. Mint cream. Grassy peat. Honey & ginger tea.
Palate: Quite spicy. Wood tannins. Salty peat. Chemical smoke. Bit of a rich creamy caramel note on the swallow, along with after 8’s.
Finish: Long. Bitter wood. Salty peat. Woodspice. Aromatic green herbs. White pepper.
Would I buy this: No
Would I order this in a bar: Yes
Would I drink this if someone gave me a glass: Yes
This was a very nice whisky, the peat really isn’t felt that much more than a ‘regular’ heavily peated whisky, but it has some good flavour to it regardless, a good deal of meaty notes, plenty spice and some salt, and lying very faintly under it all is the classic creamy Bruichladdich profile. It’s a great Winter dram, aside from the price.