Working on the stockpile of bottles and notes I’ve accumulated and not published (mostly in the last year, “thanks” to Covid19) and noticed I’m seriously lagging behind with Bruichladdich – I have tons of them waiting to be published. So here’s to a few Laddie posts but to make it interesting, let’s start with some head to head (to head) Octomore comparisons while we’re at it – should be interesting to see the differences between them, no?
Let’s start with the Octomore x.1 series. A wee reminder: the x.1 series is the Scottish barley matured in American Oak casks (A.K.A bourbon casks). There could be differences between the releases as we don’t know the ratio between 1st fill and refill casks. Today we have the three to compare today but the only surefire difference we can gleam from the official data sheets is the PPM level:
- Octomore 9.1 is peated to 156ppm
- Octomore 10.1 is peated to a lower level of ‘just’ 107ppm
- Octomore 11.1 is peated to 139.6 ppm (seriously? not a rounded number?)
They are all 5 Year Old whiskies and the ABV is very similar between the releases, on the range between 59.1% and 59.8%. For Octomore 9.1 and Octomore 10.1 there were 42,000 bottles and for Octomore 11.1 “only” 30,000 bottles were produced.
OK, that’s enough foreplay, lets go ahead and try that trio:
Nose: It starts a bit on the spirity side, then explodes with sweet peat, honey and floral side, also some tar in the background, pears. smooth and very rich. After a while there’s a floral edge to the nose, initially a bit soapy but thankfully it went away, the floral edge become perfumed and there’s Lavender and Patchouli as well and eventually cured meat and smoked meat with green melon.
Palate: Sweet peat, smoke, honey, a bit of wet ashes and floral sweetness and perfume.
Finish: Medium long length, sweet peat, honey, floral with lingering dried petals and pears.
In a nutshell: Finally an interesting and out of line Octomore
Nose: At first it’s shy – not something I ever imagined saying on Octomore… wet peat, leather, honey, soft smoke. Far gentler than the usual for Octomore but on the other hand feels more mature and complex, floral notes but less so than 9.1, pears, apricots and green melon. Added a few drops to open it up and now it’s more fruity and expressive with even more fresh green melon and honeyed stone fruits.
Palate: Oh, here we’re back in line with the series profile: sweet peat, a bit dirty, ashy and tarry, fizzy stone fruits, green melon, more peaches, more peat, salty and honeyed. a touch of floral side, dusty with coals dust.
Finish: Medium long length, dusty ashes, tar, fizzy, honeyed fruits and melon.
In a nutshell: Dirty palate Vs gentle and fruity nose (and PPM isn’t everything)
Nose: Intense, honey, dry big cave air, classic Octomore ashes and tar, fruitiness with green melon and pears, wood smoke, burnt meat, smoked meat, salty, more green melon and more cured meat (and again more melon).
Palate: Sweet peat, honey, pears, vanilla, sharp and chiseled peat influence with ashes, coals and some tar but it’s lighter and brighter. Cured meat, melon but less than the predecessors.
Finish: Medium long length, traces of ashes, peat sweetness, pears , melon, honey, a touch of vanilla and cereals.
In a nutshell: Cleaner and lighter, profile leans towards those classic melon laden laddies
Thoughts: It’s an interesting experiment to taste those head to head and it’s easy to detect and discern differences between the releases. Octomore 9.1 is an outlier as far as I’m concerted with different take with strong side of floral notes which makes it interesting for a whisky geek like me. On the other hand Octomore 11.1 is more of a traditional Octomore but sports a lighter and brighter whisky (even if still intense) than usual with melon and pears. And Octomore 10.1? Octomore 10.1 Is my winner of this trio as it combines the best of those – there’s floral side, there’s melon, easy nosing and at the same time it’s huge on the palate – there’s depth and great peaty side and it sports “only” 107 PPM.