Origin: Isle of Islay (Scotland)
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Ageing casks: Ex-Bourbon
Added coloring: No
Owner: Bruichladdich (Rèmy Cointreau)
Average price: € 150.00
Official website: www.bruichladdich.com
There is peat and peat.
This fossilised matter, formed by the accumulation of plant debris (moss, algae, aquatic plants, heather, etc.) and dead micro-organic matter (microfauna and arthropods, bacteria and fungi), is used in production as fuel to ‘fix’ the malt, i.e. to stop it germinating. It gives whisky the classic peaty aroma so exciting to many drinkers, and is strongly influenced by the environmental conditions of its place of origin.
In Scotland, it’s composed mainly of sphagnum moss and heather, rather than any other plant species, but it differs from region to region. On Islay, for example, the sea air and strong winds add salty aromas (the medicinal notes in Laphroaig whiskies certainly come from the seaweed), while the peat of the Orkney Islands is rootless and tends to be sweeter due to the greater presence of heather.
Octomore is considered the ‘king’ of peated whiskies and is a must-try for lovers of the genre.
Produced by the Bruichladdich distillery on the island of Islay, it is described as super-heavily peated. To be clear, today’s version, bottled in September 2015 after five years in ex-Bourbon casks, at a monstrous 59.5% ABV, has a peat level of 208 ppm (parts per million), four times that of an Ardbeg Ten (54 ppm) and even five times that of a Lagavulin 16yo (40 ppm).
The colour is light gold.
We approach the nose with circumspection, fearing the scratch of alcohol, which however does not arrive. We are greeted by a bank of anchovies and a generous portion of olives in brine. Then comes the peat, in its marine declination, with an original “sweet” tobacco nuance. Lemon zest and pear scent are added in the background. After a few minutes, an aroma of vanilla asserts itself with a clarity that cannot be replicated. We are surprised by this non-aggressive and – we must admit – rather varied and harmonious nose.
On the palate, given the grade, we proceed in micro-sips: here the main course remains the marine peat scent, with a side dish of smoked fish and pickled olives, and a generous sprinkling of pepper that tingles the tongue. As the drink continues, a sweet bite of pear and a puff of vanilla arrive, albeit a little reluctantly.
The finish leaves a medium-long impression of smoke in the mouth.
You expect Iron Maiden and you end up with Bach. Magic, and mystery, of whisky.
This Octomore 07.1 is an intriguing single malt that, despite the requirements, often resembles a caress (with a leather glove though).
The Whiskey Wash