Famous for being the whisky with the highest peat concentration in the world, Bruichladdich’s Octomore series reaches edition 6.3 with this 2015 release. The USP of this particular whisky is that all of the barley used to make it was grown at the local Octomore farm that gives the series its name. Not only that, but a small label on the bottle even states the specific field it was grown in; now that’s dedication to provenance.
A word about the bottle itself before we jump into the spirit inside, metaphorically speaking. As is not uncommon in the whisky industry these days, Bruichladdich has put a lot of effort into creating beautiful packaging that grabs the eye before any of the other senses come into play. The outer container is an attractive white-and-gold metal tube, and opening it up reveals a stunning bottle. Tall and elegant, frosted and engraved, it both conceals and reveals the gorgeous amber-gold liquid inside in equal measure. Catch the light just right and it seems as if the spirit glows like a firefly on a summer evening. Too often packaging like this exists to draw attention away from the whisky itself, but there’s ample substance behind the style here.
Bruichladdich doesn’t attempt to conceal the young age of this Octomore; in fact they call attention to it at every opportunity. This is a 5-year-old distilled in 2009 and those facts are readily found all over the packaging. Octomore is never going to be accused of being a mass-market line so it’s not too surprising the distillery isn’t worried about scaring people off with a low age statement.
I hope nobody was actually scared off because if they were they missed a blindingly good whisky, absolutely one of my favourites of last year. It’s far more than the eye-watering 258 ppm peat bomb you might expect. My tasting notes:
Nose: Thick peat, cut hay, white pepper, honey, lemon, peaches; overwhelmingly strong without water.
Palate: Huge peppery spice, fresh cut grass, more lemon, vanilla, touch of brine, smoke present throughout but well-integrated.
Finish: long, chilli spice, fades to dark chocolate bitterness.
With water, spice is tamed and berry fruits and cocoa come through as the whisky opens up. The finish has more pronounced dark chocolate. I definitely prefer this one with water – the natural 65% ABV is just too aggressive to appreciate it properly. The whisky is noticeably youthful but that only seems to add to its brash character.
Maybe there is something special in that Octomore farm barley after all! Unreservedly recommended – 89/100