It’s always a treat to spar with this heavyweight. I somehow always come out standing at the end, but perhaps a little worse for wear, punch drunk (or just plain drunk) and somewhat wobbly on my feet.
This is the beast we’ve all been talking about since word leaked a long while back about a malt boasting a peating spec of 258 ppm. 258? Really?! Yep. Sounds monstrous, I know, but the reality is a little different than that, in spite of all our preconceptions. It is true, however, that this Octomore 6.3 is unquestionably the most scorching show of measurable phenolic heat to which we’ve yet been subjected. I think the previous highest peating level was 169 ppm.
It’s been mentioned by others, though – and I’d have to agree – that there seems to be a threshold beyond which the olfactory and palatal sensors cease to detect any more noticeable increase in phenols. Put simply…this tastes no peatier or smokier than some malts on the market with phenolic specs in the range of 40-50 ppm (think Ardbeg or Laphroaig). Where we get the true test of might (the ‘put hair on your chest’ test, if you will, boys AND girls) is pairing this heft of peat with a paint-stripping 64% abv. This is an absolute uppercut of a whisky, all told. And incredibly awesome for it. Much more than a novelty, I should add. While I can’t imagine striking a balance was the aim with this one, I can say that it’s sometimes fun to simply revel in the effects of this sort of punch drunk lopsidedness.
Nose: Smoke and peat. Burnt rubber. Cola syrup with A familiar Bruichladdich rich buttery note. Very farmy and rich in dark soil. Flinty and mineral-y. Tart lime and citrus zest. Slightly bittering, but in a good way. Maybe burnt caramel. No need to go further. This is big, but incredibly also very sharp and seemingly delicate. Neat balance struck here.
Palate: So oily and mouthcoating. Simply incomparable Octomore is undoubtedly the most singular malt in the world. Sharp cola notes meet farmy, earthy peat. Smoke builds and rolls out in wave over wave of black billows. Burnt rubber.
Thoughts: What I wouldn’t give to drink this along the shores of Loch Indaal. Despite 258 ppm this is not an abomination of a drink. My score is in concession of the fact that I am an unapologetic Islayphile.
– Reviewed by: Curt
– Photo: Curt