I read a review of Octomore, in which the reviewer ponders whether or not Bruichladdich (or more to the point, Master Distiller Jim McEwan) has ‘jumped the shark’ with this one. Now…those of you ‘up’ on your pop culture references will no doubt be snickering, but for those who are unsure of this obscure reference, let me clarify…
Many years back – when the only bottle most of us were sucking back was full of formula or breast milk – as ‘Happy Days’ (yes…that ‘Happy Days’…y’know…Henry Winkler as the Fonz) was gasping its last breath, the writing team took an inexcusable leap of bravado at the viewers’ expense and put the Fonz in arguably TVs most ridiculous scripted moment…literally jumping a shark. Time has not been kind to this blunder, and the term ‘jumping the shark’ has become a part of our lexicon.
So, where was said reviewer going with this twisted logic and odd analogy? Well…with Bruichladdich’s tendency to saturate the whisky world with scores of snazzily-packaged young drams, it isn’t that much of a stretch to think of the Octomore as just another marketing gimmick to capture the anoraks’ attention as ‘the peatiest whisky in the world’. Jumping the shark? Maybe. Maybe not. Gimmickry aside…how does this juggernaut hold up?
To be honest…this is like being slapped in the mouth with chain mail. Holy hell, what a snarling beast this is. Massive and earthshaking. Full of complexity and balance, and ridiculously startling for just this reason. I expected this to be somewhat of a novelty bottling. A whisky meant to wear a title, sell a boatload, but not have the stones to back it up. I was knocked on my ass for my insolence, and happily so.
Like watching a beautiful woman undress, this whisky gets better and better the more it reveals itself. Pour…inhale…sit back for a few minutes…inhale…close your eyes and dream of far off Islay…inhale. This slow sensual build becomes almost overwhelming by the time you take your first sip.
Not only is the peat level beyond ridiculous (a whopping 140ppm!!), the Octomore is bottled at 62.5% abv. It ignites the mouth with its oily viscosity and thick mouthfeel. The flavors roll on in wave after wave of peat bliss. It permeates all senses and lingers beyond time. Cockroaches, Cthulhu and Octomore are all that will remain when life ends.
Aside from the heavy peat and smoke, I find hints of green apple freshness, cola tang, citrus, young vegetal notes and earth. Being so young (5 y.o.), the oak influence is minimal to non-existent. I may have to re-visit this review in the future, as I must confess I am just completely overwhelmed with this one and having troubles picking it apart. And y’know what? I don’t want to right now. It is so much more than the sum of its parts and I sort of prefer it that way.
– Reviewed by: Curt
– Photo: Curt