The “Sublime” One – TBWC’s Octomore 6 year 50.4%

Our host decided to pay tribute to whisky veteran Jim McEwan with an interesting line-up bottled by “That Boutique-y Whisky Company.”

Truth be told, had our explorations of the 3rd whisky been wildly successful, we likely would have stopped there. Three really is a perfect tasting number. However the Bruichladdich was such a peculiar one that our host brought out one more…

And…. we were so LUCKY that he did!

So, why did Jim McEwan create Octomore? Here is what he has to say:

‘I was tired of people saying that Bruichladdich wasn’t a true Islay as it wasn’t peated. From 1881 to 1960 it was peated. I resurrected a peated malt and called it Port Charlotte to stop those people. Then I decided to make Octomore to shut everyone up for ever.’

We sampled the Octomore blind, followed by the surprising reveal…

Octomore 6 year, Batch 1, 50.4% (TBWC) Bottle 608 of 796

  • Nose – Wonderful! Oil and peat, lemon, wet fur, a wild marine sea spray, some sea weed, shifting into a rich sweet spice, roasted cinnamon
  • Palate – Ooooooh! Gorgeous and just simply – beautiful. It rolled around like silk, with such a lovely balance, something to savour…
  • Finish – What a pleasure! A long delicious spice

We loved the peat as it was perfectly balanced, not too heavy, none of that asphalt or ashtray peat… just salt sweat and peat in delightful harmony. In short it was sublime!

The debate began – leave perfection as is? Or add some water…

We gave in to temptation… and discovered it was even better?! Bringing out a lovely earthy quality on the nose, initially so much yummy spice on the palate, then settled down to become even more enjoyable, shifting between cinnamon toast, salty toffee, simply delicious!

It was absolutely unanimous – we all agreed this was a brilliant dram. One to just enjoy. We ran out of words as we sat back and simply indulged, feeling exceedingly pampered.

Octomore B1.jpg

Here is what the folks over at That Boutique-y Whisky Company have to say about their 2nd batch as the notes for the 1st batch are no longer available:

The discovery of our bottling of Octomore single malt is displayed on its label in three acts. Act I: Research. Act II: Revelation. Act III: Request. A timeless tale for the ages. The most heavily-peated whiskies from Islay-based distillery Bruichladdich are released under the name Octomore, and they have a reputation for being particularly intense…

Tasting notes:

  • Nose: Medicinal peaty notes with polished leather. Liquorice toffees, charcoal burning smoke and sea spray.
  • Palate: Sweet white grapes, prickly pepper, with a woody bonfire smoke and a pinch of salt. 
  • Finish: Dry, spicy, and that hint of salt is still there while the smoke lingers

And what would this Octomore set you back for a 50 cl bottle? The recommended retail price is £144.95.

What did we sample in our tribute to Jim McEwan?

As for other Octomore explorations? Here are a few highlights:

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Bruichladdich Octomore 07.1_208 5 years 59.5%

For the Whisky Ladies, our Bruichladdich Peat Progression evening closed with a second mighty Octomore expression! In this case, the Octomore 7.1… released in 2015 before the 7.2 travel edition and one of the last Jim McEwan expressions.

What did the Whisky Ladies think?

Bruichladdich Octomore 07.1_208 5 years PPM 208 Scottish Barley 59.5%

  • Nose – Leather, eucalyptus, pine cleaner, sweet cinnamon and a dash of pepper
  • Palate – Chewy tobacco, bitter chocolate, still has that trademark power peat with no harshness and surprising balance unique to Octomore given the whopping 208 PPM, however more like bitter kerela than fruity sweet, a bit of baked goods, toffee
  • Finish – It does indeed last, with a chaser that is almost like bitter tea and basil

As it followed the 7.2, it was hard not to compare… we found it did not have quite as many elements, and curiously more academic than the artistic flourish of the 7.2, certainly not as complex and yet though it had a little less polish it was still a compellingly good dram.

I suspect if sampled solo, we would have thought it quite fabulous however the combination of polished peat and silky sweet in the 7.2 was a hard act to follow.

I would consider the 7.1 like autumn following the sunshine summer of the 7.2. Both unique in their way.

What do the folks over at Bruichladdich have to say?

  • Character – Sweet and gentle belying an awesome power and hidden depths
  • Colour – Summer sun on Hebridean sand
  • Nose – Initially the nose is sea spray and caramel, lemon balm and pipe tobacco. Slowly, the peat smoke rises from the glass, gentle but strong lifting vanilla, mint, toffee, golden syrup and almond. Peach follows with pear syrup and buttercup. A symphony, a delight to experience.
  • Palate – Wow! Smoothness, sweetness and then smoke. A texture like no other, satin soft and devilishly warming. The American oak influence is in perfect tune with the smoke and soft fruits delicately, skilfully coaxed from the still during exceptionally slow distillation. Vanilla, honey, citrus rise up to be met with sea spray and leather, smoked mussels mix with autumn bracken and crème brûlée.
  • Finish – As the sweetness from the oak fades the salt comes to the fore one last time while the gentle peat smoke steady and true grows and outlasts all else.
  • Mood – The feeling is that of long summer nights turning cooler and shorter as autumn approaches. Watch the sun set over the sea and breathe the peat smoke hanging in the air.

Our Bruichladdich Peat Progression evenings also featured:

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