OCTOMORE, recognised as the world’s most heavily-peated series of single malts, has changed the way whisky people think about Scotland’s often hidebound national drink – according to its makers, Bruichladdich Distillery.
Begins a spokesperson: “The development has been called a ‘Skunk Works’ project by insiders because the concept always set out to be disruptive and challenge comfortable convention.”
Adds the spokesperson: “It all started back in 2002, when a small group of free thinkers at Bruichladdich ignored the rule book and set a whole new direction of travel.
“Following a late night, dram-fuelled conversation around their Islay fireside they asked skilled maltsters to create the most heavily-peated malt possible.
“Stillmen at the progressive Hebridean island distillery then slowly fermented and trickle distilled short runs of an extraordinary spirit, the like of which had never been experienced before.
“This was then eclectically-casked and innovatively-matured in salt-soaked loch-side warehouses before eventual release as strictly limited, obscurely codified editions. The results have become legendary and Octomore bottlings are now eagerly awaited by enthusiasts around the world.”
The latest radical expression, Octomore 07.4, was distilled from barley peated to 167ppm and laid down in virgin oak.
The spokesperson continues: “Those who understand these things will appreciate that this is untamed, largely unmapped territory for Scotch.
“Heavyweight forces play with the senses as the smoke rich spirit of Octomore combines with the sweet honeyed vanilla of fresh allier oak. Head distiller, Adam Hannett ,has deployed all his manipulative skills during the vatting process to control these and has made just 12,000 bottles available.”
Octomore 07.4 is bottled at seven years-old at a colossal 61.2% alc. vol.
A magnificent rich chestnut colour, just taking the cork from the bottle and pouring a dram is to set an extraordinary sensory experience in motion as the room fills with sweet smoky aromas and signals the extent of the power being unleashed.
Enjoyed straight, this is not a drink for the faint of heart, but it becomes gloriously accessible with the addition of a little water as a captivating complexity counters the phenolic overtones.
The nose is filled with inspirational ideas, rich dried fruits, toasted bread and even a hint of barbecue. On the palate a spectacular backdrop of warm oak clamours for attention behind a chorus of tropical coconut, lemon peel, caramel and Turkish delight.
The finish is long with deceptively subtle suggestions of liquorice and clove, dried dates, apricots, honeysuckle and rose.
There is much more to discover. The introduction of virgin oak through 07.4 provides a whole new dimension to the Octomore experience and reinforces the sense that these unique single malts are ever more exotic milestones along a road that stretches enticingly into the distance.
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