It’s a very slow Sunday here so I think it’s a good time to review a punchy whisky to wake up the spirit and eventually I settled on some heavily peated whisky. Yes you guessed right – an Octomore. I have a few of those ready to be published so let’s review Octomore 8.4 today. I know it’s not a recent release (we already have the 9.x series out there for a while and the 10.x series coming soon) but since it’s still available out there for purchase, why not?
It’s the x.4 designation and it means that Otomore 8.4 is matured in virgin oak casks. But it’s not so simple or straight forward. Pay attention: 20% were matured in virgin oak casks and 80% were matured in first-fill ex-bourbon casks and then finished in second-fill virgin oak but those second-fill casks are in fact the Octomore 7.4 virgin oak casks! So even if it’s 8 years old, it should retain some of the Phenols as the barley was peated to 170ppm and we don’t have 100% turbo charged casks to suck all the Phenols.
Octomore 8.4 (Masterclass) (58.7%, £150/€148)
Nose: Vanilla and lemon, very sweet. Coconut and sweet oak extracts, sweet peat, even a bit aggressive peat. seaside air and saltiness. After a few minutes there’s also sweet smoke, brine, vinegar and spiciness led by cloves and cinnamon. Continue reading
It’s really been a long time without an Octomore review on here, ah? A whole month has passed! 🙂
Truthfully I didn’t think another Octomore review will come out so soon but we’re closing on Feis Ile 2018 and some interesting Islay whiskys pop out.
Today I’m checking out a new Octomore from Dramfool, a Scottish independent bottler, released for Islay Whisky Festival 2018 which is also known as Feis Ile 2018 but the ‘Feis Ile’ term is now trademarked so Islay Whisky Festival it is in our case.
It’s a 150 ppm 6 year old Octomore (2011 vintage) from ex-bourbon Hogshead #4552/2011 that was filled for Simon Coughlin, Bruichladdich CEO at the time. Total of 253 bottles were produced from that Hogshead at a whopping 62%.
Octomore 2011 6 Year Old Dramfool (Islay Festival 2018) (62%, £160)
Nose: Crisp and well defined, sweet vanilla, sweet peat, It’s sweet but it’s not cloying or a dominating sweetness. Instead it’s more like gentle cake sugar icing sweetness. No smoke so far, but it does gets fruity after a few minutes: apricots with hints of floral perfume . With a few drops of water it’s on a new level of fruitiness with more apricots, green mango and papaya and becomes more perfumey. Continue reading
After being a bit distracted by the Old Pulteney 2004 we’re back at some more Octomores and today we’re checking Octomore 8.3.
Unlike Octomore 8.1 and Octomore 8.2, Octomore 8.3 is only 5 year old which is more or less in line with previous Octomore generations. The barley was grown in a single field at Octomore farm (Bruichladdich Distillery neighbors) and 56% of the whisky was matured in ex-Bourbon casks and 44% matured in European oak casks. 18,000 bottles at 61.2% were produced.
The 309 PPM (Phenols per million) figure for Octomore 8.3 is mightly impressive, and probably holds the unofficial Guinness world record for the peatiest barley, but we do know that the PPM level drops rapidly from the malted barley stage to the final product (depending on distillation, barrels, etc). Nevertheless, I guess we still should expect heavy influence in the whisky so let’s check it out.
Octomore 8.3 Masterclass (61.2%, £156.55/€189,95)
Nose: Malt, damp peat bomb, thick and dense heather honey with little vanilla. Salt and meat. Vinegar (like pickles in vinegar), overripe pears and peaches, cream. With water: the intensity goes down and we get some wood smoke, chocolate and more pears and peaches. Continue reading
I reviewed Octomore 8.1 last week but I can’t really stop here so let’s head on to the next one in the series – Octomore 8.2.
Just like Octomore 8.1, it’s 100% Scottish barley peated to 167 ppm level and carries an 8 year old age statement.
The x.2 suffix in the series is reserved for wine maturation or finish, but this year it’s kind of extreme as the casks composition is complex. At first, the Octomore spirit spent six years in one of three different types of wine casks (all second fill casks):
- French Mourvedre
- Austrian sweet wines
- French Sauternes
And then finished (or as Bruichladdich call it: ACEd) in fresh Amarone casks for additional two years. From those Amarone casks, 36,000 were produced for the travel retail shops.
Octomore 8.2 Masterclass (58.4%, ~€159.90)
Nose: Sweet malt and sweet red wine, tannins, nuts, lactic, moss, big time leather- new shoe leather and smoked leather. Red gooseberry, freshly cut wet peat. After a few minutes, perfume, bay leaves, cloves, and more and more leather. Continue reading
Currently we’re having here a short spell of rainy days and a bit colder weather (unfortunately just a bit) which is refreshing to have in April after yet another too dry winter. Let’s use the occasion to check out a heavily peated whisky, Bruichladdich Octomore 8.1.
This Octomore 8.1 is peated to 167 ppm level, was distilled in 2008 using only Scottish barley. The casks used for this expressions are all first fill american oak casks. According to Bruichladdich casks from Buffalo Trace, Clermont Springs, Four Roses, Heaven Hill & Jack Daniels were used here and the long list explains how 42,000 bottles were made.
Octomore 8.1 Masterclass (Scottish Barley) (59.3%, £109)
Nose: Soft smoke, creamy with vanilla and fruitiness, green melon (that weakens over time), orange orchard, pastry and almonds and more fruit sweetness after a few minutes. Continue reading
It was confirmed earlier today that we will see some Octomores on the shelves here next month. Hurray! And while celebrating this piece of news, I’ve noticed that I had neglected to post notes for Octomore 7.1 while reviewing 7.2, 7.3 and 7.4, so it’s time to get it fixed.
Octomore 7.1 was the last Octomore that Jim McEwan did for Bruichladdich before he retired after more than 50 years in the industry. It was made using Scottish barley peated to a then high record of 208 ppm and then was matured for 5 years in American oak barrels.
Bruichladdich Octomore 7.1 (59.5%, £107/€128,05)
Nose: Sweet smoke, peat, honey, vanilla pods, half cured half raw meat. After a few minutes getting red fruit: plums and red apples and also peaches marmalade with a honeyed perfume. Continue reading
Octomore OBA is not a normal Octomore release. In fact you could say it’s kind of a foster child of the family. It’s wasn’t released as a member of the annual series nor did it get any official numerical assignment (x.1 to x.4) but instead it was a separate release with irregular bottle size (which delayed the release).
It’s the Octomore version of the Black Art series (hence the OBA naming), 10 wine casks matured Octomore spirit with a secret recipe. Although Bruichladdich preaches transparency, when it comes to Black Art releases, the leaps are sealed. All we know that it’s a vatting of 10 casks from four different vintages with the youngest vintage hailing from 2008 so it’s a 8-9 years old whisky. What else do we know? that there are six different cask types and all from a single barley strain.
Octomore OBA Concept (59.7%)
Nose: Smoke and sweet honey at first, followed by vanilla and red wine, solid earthy peat, whole black pepper, red fruit, grapes, tannins but it’s pretty rich with dry smoke. After a while it’s smoky sweet red wine with some tannins, smoked meat, getting flatter with time and oxygen. Continue reading