Bruichladdich have done it again by beating all records for most peaty whisky in the world! Chemically this spirit holds 258 phenols per million, quite a step up from their previous high score of 169ppm (Octomore 5.1). This time the spirit is made up from 100% Islay Barley, farmed by James Brown at Lorgba, one of his fields on Octomore farm.
Intense smoke and bacon. It’s like someone put a pig in the centre of a bonfire. While I know that doesn’t sound politically correct it does smell very correct! It’s a fascinating nose, which gives some used engine oil, heather, honey, golden syrup and a touch of vanilla sponge cake. Considering the high alcohol volume it doesn’t abuse the senses as much as I would expect. Time in the glass and the smoke fades and the nose becomes softer with more of the honey cakey notes coming forward.
The arrival is immediately sweet, vanilla and cake, thick in the mouth with those awesome oils, then a bang of alcohol hits, quickly subsides with waves and waves of oily sweet delights. After that initial nip it becomes quite smooth, I can’t express how oily this is and the whole experience takes over. That’s the thing I’ve always found with Octomore, it’s an experience, not just a combination of aromas and tastes, it’s ethereal! Ok, try to analyse. Thick vanilla, a touch of ginger and chilli, a touch lactic, cake mix, filthy earthy moss (that’s good by the way!), charred oak, some salt, sweet and sour now, and starting to get drier. Every time I’m sipping this dram it’s changing slightly, it’s softer now, more honeyed notes. So sipable at cask strength! I’m getting low on dram actually and need to add water!
Goes on for a millennium. I could probably write tomorrow about the finish on this one it’s so long. Smoke returns and wafts around. Cake mix. Quite dry, some sea salt, but then there is also some old sherry notes in the background I can’t quite explain, dark dried fruits. A touch of oak dust lingers in the dryness.
A good few drops added. On the nose the smoke is reanimated. This time more peaty and earthy, dirty and real. More pepper is evident now. Less of the vanilla and cake, but it’s all together a smokier whisky now. The palate is sweeter, there are a few fruity elements coming into play now, soft overripe melon and peaches alongside the earthy smoke. The finish continues to be huge and long, slightly sweeter, with loads of smoke, oak, some BBQ sticky sauced ribs and a touch of bitter oak. I’ve added some more water now, and things have become a lot more fruitier and it’s all about those fruits and the smoke is a little sidelined, still present, but not as in your face as it has been up to now. This well watered Octomore is a completely different (but equally excellent) experience from the undiluted. Well, well, well, to water or not to water? For me…both… pour 2 drams and only water 1 and have 2 amazing experiences.
Ok, this has been a bit of a rambling review. I’m sorry, excitement is a big thing with me and whisky, and Octomore is one of those that gets me overexcited – through the roof! The thing with Octomore for me is that I loose time, senses become overwhelmed and comprehension becomes warped, and not due to the alcohol, but the whole journey that this whisky takes you on. It’s a crazy road, but one worth travelling time and again. Love this stuff! Bottle bought.
Great thanks to Bruichladdich for providing the review sample.