A trio of 8.x Octomore (8.1, 8.2, 8.3)

Octomore Farm

Last week I reviewed an Indie Octomore which was quite interesting and unique. Today however we’re back to OB Octomores, with a triplet of the latest 8.x releases. There’s always debate about Octomores among whisky nerds, some loving them and willing to pay the extra buck, while some saying they are overpriced young whiskies, with bottles looking too much like vodka. I guess the truth as always is somewhere in the middle. I am quite in favor of Octomore, and always have been, although with my low peat intake, I find myself reaching out for a bottle only in the coldest nights (we do not get a lot of those in my neck of the woods)…

let’s start from the start with the 8.1.. which is an ex-bourbon classic cask profile, then continue to the more ‘exotic’ wine cask profiles of it’s brethren.

Octomore 8.1 was distilled in 2008 using 100% Scottish barley, from the 2007 harvest, peated to 167 ppm, then 100% matured in first fill american oak casks, including Buffalo Trace, Clermont Springs, Four Roses, Heaven Hill & Jack Daniels casks. It’s been bottled at 59.3% ABV , there are ‘only’ 42,000 bottles.

Octomore 8.1 (Scottish Barley Masterclass),  8 yo , 59.3% ABV , £109 

Nose: Starts quite sweet with vanilla, tablet, with some farmy notes, Scottish tablet, and a whiff of sea breeze, the smoke is quite sweet, and mixed with vanilla and honey suckle. very nice all in all.
 
Palate: More vanilla and Crème brûlée, with ash, dry smoke,  more honey  and sweet malt, cereal and a touch of condensed milk sweetened with honey.
 
Finish : vanilla infused with dry sweet-ish smoke.. Classic Octomore style.
In short: A very nice classic Octomore, creamy and honeyed .

Score: 86/100

 Let’s continue with the next Octomore, the 8.2 – this one was distilled in 2008 using 100% Scottish barley, from 2007 harvest, peated to 167ppm, and is essentially a Global travel retail exclusive, 36,000 bottles bottled at 58.4% ABV.  This is a wine centric sort of whisky with the following wood scheme:

French Mourvedre – a red wine grape that has a reputation for producing intense red fruit, and strong, earthy, even gamey flavours.

Austrian sweet wines – full bodied and charming with an ability to challenge convention with innovative techniques.

French Sauternes – casks from the Graves section in Bordeaux that previously held some of the most revered and exclusive dessert wines the world has ever seen.

All of the above were second fill casks which had calmed the wood perfectly in preparation for a longer maturation with the mighty Octomore before being ACEd into fresh Amarone casks for a period of two years.

Octomore 8.2,  58.4% abv , 8 yo ,  € 159 (travel retail only) 

Nose: This one’s fruitier alright, with quite some red fruit, as the wine casks are at work. There’s some smoke on the nose, but it’s only playing 2nd violin to the fruity goodness.There’s some candied orange, as well as red fruit,spices , a hint of apple strudel and then some more sooty notes, rather rich.
Palate: Fruit leather,  BBQ’ed ripe fruit, quite a bit of wine-y notes out there as well as big notes of fruit salad, mostly on the
Finish:  More red fruit, sweet smoke and wine tannins.
In short: This one’s lovely, and big on the wine notes, sweet fruit and the peat mixes quite well with everything. A good one to seek out if you’re traveling and in need of some Octomore.

Score: 87/100

 

 

 

 

Octomore Masterclass8.3 ,5  yo,  Islay Barley , 61.2%, £168

This is most heavily-peated octomore to date (309ppm!!), but remember this is pre-distillation so actual post distillation ppm will be much lower, but still this is HUGE. Following a carefully controlled trickle distillation, the spirit was matured in 56% first fill Bourbon casks, the remaining in ex-Paulliac, Ventoux, Rhone and Burgundy casks. This is a very unique Octomore as the barley came from one farm, one field, one vintage… [Distilled in 2011 from 2010 harvest] , Aged 5 years,18,000 btls , and bottled at 61.2% ABV

Nose: Quite medicinal at first (infirmary notes, wasted bandages, and hints of iodine), but also sweet, and fruity (we got some wine here too, right?), vanilla is king with a subdued sort of sweet peat , butter-y and creamy at times. quite a three faced beast I’d say.

Palate: Quite a hot entry, with chilly, that’s toned down with time, more buttery -sweet notes, and sweet smoke engulfing your palate. There’s a lot of peat, but it certainly doesn’t feel THAT peaty, i guess most is lost in distillation and the deltas are not so large.  Sweet wood, and more vanilla.

Finish: Smoky sweet, with maple glazed bacon, and earthy peat.

In short: This feels younger and less well composed than the 8.2 (and it is!), sweeter, and the wine effect is not as big. It’s quite the beast ABV wise, and water is recommended to tame it down.

Score: 86/100

 

Post Script:

So which Octomore should you pick? That of course depend on you… I would go with the 8.2 , then 8.1 and 8.3 – it’s a tie. At any rate, all three offer a unique sipping experience for the peat lover, on a cold winter night -Octomore’s your best friend. Not cheap, but it’s something every peat head should try, and buy at least once. right?

 

 

 

 

 

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