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
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)
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.
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?