The ninth iteration of the Octomore series has been released, and is the stuff of peated dreams.
Octomore is Bruichladdich’s super heavily peated range, and some of the most heavily peated malt available anywhere.
The distillery itself, which is well known for its innovation, have always created intriguing malts, and this is certainly one of their more captivating.
It was born out of a desire to create the most peated malt around, and they have certainly done that.
The concept is very experimental and the brand wants to challenge the perception of malt as a result of ageing alone.
That is why it is referred to as Dialogos, which means a dialogue, or protracted conversation you have with someone and the theatrical form of showing that. It is a type of debate, much like the debate around peat and ageing that Bruichladdich want to encourage.
Octomore 9.1 – The Control
Right off the bat we see hoe Bruichladdich are challenging ideas about the quality of younger malt. They have started with a 5 Year Old for the first bottling in the ninth part of the series.
It has been created using Scottish barley and matured in ex-Bourbon casks.
The nose begins with lots of peat smoke and sea salt. It is unmistakably a coastal dram. Every drop of it brims with peat and sea water.
Behind it all is a wonderful aroma of caramel and oak wood, just waiting to be experienced.
The palate brings it all full force. There is warming, drying peat, with lots of sea salt and brine.
Then comes the sweet, vanilla tannins, with big, bold notes of oak wood. It is smooth and soft, with caramel like mouth feel.
The peat is pungent and earthy, with damp grass and soil coming out. Everything wraps up together and plays in harmony.
The finish is really strong, with more heat and a lovely lasting note of caramel and sea salt.
Octomore 9.2 – The Independent Variable
For 9.2, Bruichladdich still used Scottish Barley and ex-Bourbon barrels, but finished the Whisky in ex-Bordeaux red wine casks.
This is what they refer to as the Independent Variable in the name, it is the one thing in the experiment that changes.
This expression opens with a much fruitier nose. It is full of plums, figs and dates, with sweet nuts and oak wood.
The sweetness is lovely and really ties in well with the rich dullness of the peat.
The palate is much darker, with lots of coffee, dark chocolate, mahogany wood and peat smoke.
The smoke is charred and warming, with a lovely earthy richness. Sweet nuts and black cherries come out and give it an excellent amaretto note to bounce off.
The oak wood is well developed and goes well with the peat. It goes hand in hand with the thick jammy fruits of the nose.
The finish is strong and lingering, with lots of peat and peppery spice.
Octomore 9.3 – Naturalistic Observation
This is the dram that captures the effect of environment on the taste of a Whisky. It is referred to as “ultra-provenance”, meaning it is from one farm, one field and has one vintage.
Both French oak and American oak have been used to mature this malt, for five years, and it is crafted from concerto barley.
The nose opens with lots of oak wood and malted grains. it has hints of herbs and sweet teas, with caramel and citrus fruits.
There is a slightly dessert flavour, with a cakey quality and rich buttery pastry.
The peat is smooth and lively on the palate, interacting with the oak wood and adding a lovely warming quality.
It is full of heather and thyme, both of which go perfectly with the tart lemon zest that also appears.
There is a fruity flavour here as well, with lots of caramel and treacle to go with it. The sweetness is intense and mouth wateringly good.
The finish is packed with malted barley and peat smoke.
This is a really exciting series and with the ninth edition, we are being given plenty of room to discuss flavour profiles and how things like environment, provenance, levels of peat and maturation process effect the flavour of the Whisky.
Say what you like about Bruichladdich, but you can’t deny their innovation!