Friday, 22 January 2016

Octomore 7.4 and friends

This is the first *.4 Octomore. It's .1 for bourbon cask, .2 for wine cask, .3 for local barley (always good) and .4 now for virgin oak casks (I assume). There's been casks of virgin oak Octomore knocking about at the distillery for a while which visitors have been given previews of (I tasted it here) but now it's made it to the mainstream. I thought the full term virgin oak was a bit odd (good but odd) and I guess Adam Hannett thought something similar as full term virgin oak only makes up 25% of the vatting for 7.4. The other 75% is made out 3 year old classic first fill ex-bourbon cask Octomore, which is then finished for 2 years in virgin oak, then a final 2 year finish in first fill bourbon, making this a 7 year old Octomore (they're usually 5 years old except for a single release of 10 year old a while back, see below). Also, two trips through two different first fill bourbon casks isn't something I've heard of before. That's a LOT of bourbon influence.

Anyway, these Octomore bottles are a packaging masterpiece. So authoritative… I reckon they ship cooling rods for nuclear power stations in this kind of packaging. 04.2 was my favourite.

Other Octomore reviews: Discovery, 06.3, 07.2, distillery only things here, 04.1, 04.2, 05.1, 06.1 here, Elements of Islay Oc1 here.  The first one has the review of the single cask virgin oak that 07.4 isn’t.

Octomore 07.1, 208ppm, 59.5% A⊕+

bruichladdich-octomore-07point1-5-year-old-whiskyNose - It's a beautiful thing. Blisteringly sweet and white winey, with sour top notes like raspberries have. Dusty Love Hearts, cheap vanilla ice cream and lemon sorbet. But this intensity is all knitted together by that restrained Octomore funk, which is so revolting in the new make but makes the matured whisky.  With water, that funk is bordering on public toilets but it works so well. It's a fine line though, it must be terrifying vatting Octomore for release…

Body - Sweet, winey fireworks, sherbet and ice pops. Meat and oak. Very yellow. Just delicious with water. The peat isn't that forward, and I would have called this as a wine cask finish (but I suck at blind tasting). Sweet, balanced by acidity and peat.

Finish - Long, burning, fizzing and ripe. Lemon drops. With water, just so gentle and delicious. Sweet, clean and winey.

This is a gentle, almost elegant, but simultaneously quite intense whisky. I wonder if the high peat levels numb the mouth, like Sechuan peppercorns do with Sechaunese food, allowing you to eat more chilli. It's bloody good either way, and totally still available.  Buy now!

Octomore 10 years old, 80.5ppm (bless!), 50% A⊕

Thanks Jon for opening his bottle of this and splitting it with the faithful!

bruichladdich-octomore-10-year-old-whiskyNose - Elegant, sweet and clean! So much cleaner than the 07.1 but also lacking some its power. What it gains though is milk chocolate, refreshers and ozone. More dirty with water, slightly charred, and with time, a real Biltong note to it.

Body - Sweet, rich and chocolatey, and more obviously peated - more raw peat - than the 07.1. Delicious though, with Marlboro lights and chocolate bonbons. More fetid with water.

Finish - Long, sweetly oaked, slightly lemony, a touch of deodorant.

Balanced and zesty throughout, but gently warm, rich and toffeed too. A real glugger. Water takes the edge off the elegance to be honest, turns it into some more simple and a bit broken.

Octomore 07.4, 167ppm, 61.2% A⊕

20160121_160751Nose - On the inhale, it's all sweet deodorant, Octomore funk, wine and a big cask wax that I've never had before in an Octomore (that could be the 7 years, perhaps it’s the trip through two different first fill casks for 75% of the whisky). On the exhale it's all Balcones Brimstone; burnt post oak and rabbit food pellets. It's not as obvious as Brimstone though, this is a much slower matured whisky and certainly not as brutal, and the sweet toffee backing is pure Scotch. I really like it… but the overall effect is very American. In some ways it's also like the Wasmunds single malt where you can really taste the influence of the cherry and oak chips the malt was dried under the influence of. But again, that Octomore funk really knits all sorts of crazy intensity together. Complex, BBQed, dirty, well integrated, very different. With water, a little gentler I suppose, ice lolly sticks and a touch of sugary meat in with the 'Q.

Body - Heavily oaked Chardonnay, burning oak chunks, burning bracken, dark toffee, blackcurrant travel sweets. Red wine cask with its dark fruits, intense oak tannins. It falls apart a bit with water, it knocks the midrange and some of the point out of this bruiser.

Finish - Long, palate destroying wood smoke, lots of dark black coffee, sweet and spicy.

This is a great whisky, perhaps even an important whisky. This has moved Scotch so far out of bounds that it makes me think more of craft American spirits than Islay, let alone Scotland. The virgin oak and "almost virgin" first fill bourbon has had such a profound effect that even the intense peating and Islay terroir are firmly pushed to one side… but still the talent and care taken at Bruichladdich are not lost. But is it Scotch? I don't know, it's bloody good though.

I do like Brimstone though.

I'm building up an Octomore blend which isn't ready yet. So far it has Discovery, 12 year old d'Yquem and 5yo virgin oak cask from the distillery, 04.2, 06.3 and 07.2 in it.  It has a sweet, pure refreshers and very dirty nose, almost modelling clay. It's pretty harsh on the delivery though, lots of neat tobacco and licked joss stick. I'll keep adding to it…


  1. That blend sounds interesting, but I can imagine getting a proper balance is quite difficult. Octomore is so big and brash that it seems like it would be hard to make a blend that is better than the original components. I've got a living bottle of OB Springbank, and I've noticed that it's much easier to blend well with a diverse array of whiskies to choose from.

    1. ah, yes I haven't started the blend because I think it's going to be any good, I've started it for fun! There's zero chance of making anything as well balanced as any of the originals, particularly 07.1 above... IMO whisky making is proper rocket science. Got a post in the works on this...

    2. Perhaps just the .1s, and the 10 yr? So it's just bourbon casks, and they are all variations on the same theme.