Nose: Salt, seaweed, hay, wood shavings, and fresh malt. Also some aniseed, and wet tar. Small hints of icing sugar and sherbet are also there.
Palate: Brine, peat, straw, jalepenos, mixed beer nuts, and well-charred barbequed meats. Did I mention the brine and the peat? They make up the majority of the flavour.
Mouthfeel: Mid-weight, and quite oily. Quite a bit of burn.
Finish: Salty, extremely peaty, and barbeque ash. Quite a long finish, with a decent amount of burn. The finish is surprisingly dry considering the mouthfeel is so oily.
Balance: It’s not really balanced at all; sweet and farmy on the nose; salty, spicy and meaty on the palate; and salty ash on the finish.
This is the first release of Bruichladdich’s super heavily peated single malt, Octomore. Five years old with no colouring, and no chill-filtration. Peated to a previously unheard of 131ppm, and bottled (in an extremely sexy tall opaque black bottle) at cask strength of 63.5%ABV.
Well here it is – the birth of a legend. The first retail release of the Octomore series – the result of a “what if” moment from Jim McEwan. This whisky was released in 2008, three years before the release of the whisky that would really cement Bruichladdich’s position on the world whisky maps, the Laddie Ten; and four years before Rémy Cointreau made their £58 million play for the distillery. That’s not to say that the whisky world didn’t pay attention to the release of Octomore; it’s hard to release the single most heavily peated whisky on the planet – from a whisky known for releasing whisky with little or no peat – and slip it under the radar.
This whisky is quite rough (though not necessarily in a bad way) – more like a Laphroaig Quarter Cask (a whisky that I’m not at all adverse to popping the cork of) with the peat ramped up than anything from Bruichladdich. Lots of salt and char on both the palate and in the finish. Unlike later releases of Octomore, this one also has a decent amount of burn – both in the mouth, and in the finish.
Although the 1.1 is not my favourite Octomore by a long shot, it’s still a pretty decent whisky. It’s a bit like William Hartnell, the first Doctor in Doctor Who; a little brash, a little eccentric, and very few people’s favourite – but admired all the same for both the great role he played, and for being the start of what was to come.