Man…I almost feel like I need to shout over the incredible volume of this malt. This is a loud, loud whisky. And that, of course, is a good part of its charm and appeal.
Bruichladdich Octomore. There is no other single malt in Scotland that is nearly as successful at five years old. Peat monsters work quite well in their youth, as we’ve discussed, and this is no exception. Version 3.1 (sounding much more like a web release, than a batch number) is a beautifully clean drink. Phenolic and bordering on one dimensional, yes, but sometimes just sticking with what you know…and doing it better than anyone else…is more than enough.
Quick recap: Bruichladdich is the current undisputed heavyweight champ in the ever escalating peat wars. This particular edition of Octomore boasts a pre-distillation phenol count of 152 parts per million, though more contemporary batches have ratcheted that up a notch further to 167 ppm. What actually ends up in the glass is a story for another day (and perhaps written by someone with a bit better grasp of chemistry than I), but rest assured any edition of Octomore is a beastly dram.
Octomore is so much more than just an exemplification of a novel concept though. It has defined a contemporary style for flavour junkies and extremists. It has towered above others through persona alone, but has always been able to fall back on the reality that this is damn good distillate in its own right. A clean spirit cut married to great oaken barrels. End of story. Having said all of that, and acknowledged Bruichladdich’s status atop the pile, I’m sincerely hoping that rumours of an impending Ardbeg Supernova 2014 make the competition interesting again. Fingers crossed.
Nose: Smoke. And more smoke. Damp, dark and vegetal. Buttery. Moist dark soil. Immensely farmy. Very strong dark chocolate. Cola. Smoke. Lemon. Tarry Asphalt and rubber. Wet, sooty ash…and rock. Sweeter than you’d imagine, but not really fruity.
Palate: Lapsang Souchong tea. Earthy, damp smoke. And, paradoxically, big black billows of dry smoke as well. Some anise. Lemon. Butterscotch. a lot of peaty influence, to be expected. Like mouth-breathing when you take a chilly morning walk in Bowmore (anyone who has been there will know that smoky tang in the village air).
Thoughts: Very much an Octomore. Exactly what I had hoped for when I picked this one up. Begs the question now…why am I ever without a bottle of this stuff open? One of the best young malts on the market, and far from just a novelty. But, hey…I’m just a peathead. To quote ‘Sid and Nancy’: “Never trust a junkie.”
– Reviewed by: Curt
– Photo: Curt