Peated to 96.9 ppm, this 8 year old was aged for 4 years in first-fill American oak and then in third-fill French oak sauternes casks. Sea salt and buttery smoke on the early nose, becoming more honeyed. The palate is oily and relatively mellow, with pineapple enveloped in rich, spicy peat smoke. Quite long in the finish, with Jaffa oranges, pepper, and chili. (24,000 bottles; Travel Retail exclusive)
One of four Octomore 08 Masterclass releases, this was distilled in 2011 from Islay barley peated to 309 ppm. Fifty-six percent of the spirit was matured in first-fill bourbon casks, while the remainder was aged in European oak wine casks. Barbecue smokiness on the nose, with wet peat and citrus fruitiness. On the palate, earthy peat, full-bodied red wine, and milk chocolate. Peat smoke to the fore in the finish, with ginger and chili. (18,000 bottles)
Distilled from malt peated to 167 ppm, this whisky’s complex maturation program includes first-fill port and cognac, second-fill American whiskey, and virgin oak casks. The nose is sweet, with ginger, marzipan, rock pools, and floral smokiness. Initially, barley sugar and malt on the palate, then drier, with a hint of iodine, medicated soap, old leather, and dried peat. Peppery, with antiseptic and smoky oak in the finish. (12,000 bottles)
Distilled from 52 tons of Islay barley and filled into 134 casks, most of which were second fill. At 5 years old, the result is whisky with an initially fresh and zesty nose, featuring sea breezes and lemon juice. Mild iodine, ginger, and sweet peat then develop. Sweet on the full palate, with honey, cereal notes, smoky peat, and brine. Oak and chili in the ultimately dry finish.
Bruichladdich Octomore 10 Second Limited Edition, 57.3%
Single Malt Scotch | $235
Distilled in December 2005 using malt peated to a whopping 167 parts per million, this was matured in a mix of bourbon and Grenache Blanc casks. Old warm leather, rich smoke, developing peaty peach, chocolate-coated toffee, pipe tobacco, and iodine on the powerful nose. Huge peatiness in the mouth, oily, smoky orchard fruits, developing ginger nuts, and sea salt. Warming in the finish, with licorice, gunpowder tea, and ashy peat.
This “single field, single vintage, single malt,” was distilled in 2013 from Islay barley, peated to 114 ppm and aged in first-fill American whiskey barrels. The nose offers sweet, fragrant woodsmoke from logs on an open fire, with milk chocolate, salted caramel, and orange. The fragrant smoke carries over on the palate, with pears, melons, and developing barley sugar. Dark peat and licorice in the finish. (24,000 bottles)
Distilled in 2008 from 100 percent Scottish barley peated to 167 ppm. It spent 8 years in first-fill American oak casks. Peaches dipped in hot plain chocolate and tarry peat on the fragrant nose. The palate offers sweet, creamy orchard fruits and honey, backed by citrus-laden peat. Drying in the finish to quite a bitter, tannic smokiness. (42,000 bottles)
Distilled in 2012 entirely from Scottish barley, this was aged for 5 years in American whiskey barrels. The nose is sweet, with apricots, vanilla, ginger, white pepper, ozone, and antiseptic cream, plus insistent smoky peat. Orchard fruits on the palate, with big earthy smoke notes, vanilla, and coconut. The finish is long, with licorice, black pepper, rock salt, and drying peat.
Distilled in 2013 from Scottish barley, this 107 ppm 5 year old was matured entirely in first-fill American oak casks. Quite elemental on the nose, with brine, rock pool, and cigarette ash aromas, plus ginger and an ultimate hint of nougat. Peaches on the palate, with lively spices, roasted nuts, oak, and dark peat. The finish features licorice, overt peat, and black pepper. (42,000 bottles)
The youngest Octomore released to date, 10.4 was distilled from Scottish barley peated to 88 ppm, then aged for 3 years in 28 highly toasted virgin Limousin French oak casks. The nose offers vanilla, new leather, cloves, sawdust, and white pepper. Intense fruitiness on the palate, with malt, a medicinal note, and more cloves. The finish yields dried fruits, bitter oak, and hot spices. (12,000 bottles)
Every month seems to bring a new Octomore. Much is made of the peatiness of the malt used, but just as important is the way in which it is distilled and matured. It is these two aspects that give it sweetness and balance. This is minty, honey-sweet, with meadowsweet, some dried lavender, tinned peaches, and that hot sand note typical of Bruichladdich. The smoke is merely suggestive, giving an integrated power. 5 years old? Who knows what might happen next?
Distilled in 2009, so remember this is only 5 years old. At this stage there’s not a lot of cask, but there is an insanely intense smoky, herbal note like eucalyptus, celery, spruce, pine resin, then some angelica and a crisp mineral edge. The palate is balanced between this intensity, big smoke, and Bruichladdich’s typical oily, sweet core. Water doesn’t affect it one little bit. It is bold, it is proud, it is in charge. I like its sheer ballsiness. £110
Also distilled in 2009, this is mid-gold in color and medium weight, with a mass of sage-like smoke. More cask influence than 7.1, with smoked coconut, and again a mix of sweet fruits and lemon behind this smoky lead. Oily and rich, but a little fragmented on the tongue; the elements are beginning to cohere to produce integrated complexity. Octomore in mellow mood, with smoked chestnut and a little farmyardy Pinot note. Another positive work in progress report. £125
Smoke comes at you immediately, the morning-after smoke of a spent fire, mixing with reeds and rushes, a touch of coconut, and light oak. Water is needed to bring out sweetness alongside the Band-Aid note typical of many young peaty whiskies. The palate is a lot sweeter than the nose suggests, bold and quite thick; honey adding a sticky quality that then moves into creosote and antiseptic cream. It needs hefty degrees of dilution. A work in progress. £100
Distilled in 2008 from barley peated to 167 ppm and matured in virgin French oak casks. Sweet smoke and oak on the initial nose, with quite assertive spices. Freshly sawn timber, dried fruits, and emerging vanilla. Slightly earthy on the palate, where big spice notes continue with peaches, orange, and milk chocolate. The finish is relatively long, with cloves, licorice, ginger, and chili. Bold is the word! (12,000 bottles)
Bruichladdich Octomore (Edition 01.1), 5 years old, 63.5%
Single Malt Scotch | $185
This is the new super-peated (131 ppm phenol barley) Bruichladdich. “Super-peated” seems almost like an understatement. Ultra-peated, perhaps? Intense smoke on the nose and palate, with notes of freshly tarred road, cigar smoke and ash, licorice root, bacon fat, kalamata olive, and smoked seaweed. Struggling to emerge are youthful orchard fruit, honeyed malt, brine, and soft vanilla. Long, smoky finish -- like licking the walls of a peat-infused kiln. A very invigorating whisky. It’s a few years younger than the other ultra-peated whisky, Ardbeg Supernova. I think if they were both the same age, I would like them equally (and score them equally -- I gave Supernova an 89). But the Octomore does taste a little green, which was not noticeable in the Supernova. I think Octomore will be very good in another five years, and amazing in another ten. Let’s hope the lads at Bruichladdich are holding some stocks back.
Bruichladdich Octomore ‘Comus’ 4.2 2007 5 year old, 61%
Single Malt Scotch | $200
Comus is the name of a frankly terrifying English folk group who taps into the dark, pagan spirit underpinning that music. An apposite name then for the Laddie’s most heavily-peated variant. If you want to know what it’s like to stand beside a kiln, then sniff this, but the distillery’s sweetness is retained, here in the guise of pineapple and banana. The palate is like eucalyptus lozenges, with light maltiness before that Laddie thickness makes things even sweeter.