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
I quite adore the Octomore line up from Bruichladdich. As one who considers himself as a peathead, having a unique extremely highly peated whisky line is nothing less than a blessing. I tasted and reviewed a few Octomores and I always look forward for new expressions to see what else do they have in their tricks bag.
The latest Octomore release was in late 2015; the Octomore 7.4. It’s the first time that Bruichladdich has reached the x.4 number for an Octomore release. Here’s a quick primer for you: the x.1 represents the ‘natural’ (bourbon casks) release, x.2 represents the wine finish, x.3 which is a relatively recent addition is the Islay (local) barley variant and now we have x.4 – the Virgin Oak variant.
This time it’s not a simple and straightforward case of putting an Octomore spirit (at 167 ppm) into Virgin Oak casks and bottling them 7 years later, oh no. Instead, it’s a a combination of 25% full-term maturation in virgin oak casks and 75% that were matured for 3 year in first fill ex-bourbon casks, transferred for 2 years in virgin oak casks and then finished for another 2 year in first fill bourbon. So Octomore 7.4 is 7 years old instead of the customary 5 years old we are used to see and should boast a fruity and sweet profile.
Why the change? what made Adam Hannett and the Bruichladdich team change the formula?
Fortunately, we do have some insight into the process here as some casks of 7yo Octomore fully matured in Virgin Oak casks were on public tasting in the months leading to the official release. Thanks to the Bruichladdich team and a friend, I managed to taste such a cask that was showcased in Bruichladdich Feis Ile 2015 event:
Bruichladdich Octomore 2008 single cask #1202 from Feis Ile 2015 (64.4%)
Nose: Very closed and muted at first due to the high ABv but slowly heavy sweetness develops along with heavy flowered meadow, apricots and peaches grove, burnt toffee, a bit over-burnt caramel, coals and wood smoke, late night bonfire remnants, almost not peated after the active cask robbed the phenols for 7 years. Continue reading