Nose: Fresh citrus, vanilla, quite herbacious. Plenty of smoke as you’d expect from an Octomore, although there’s also notes of iodine – which depsite being common with Islay malts, is not a common note for me with Octomore.
Palate: Citrus an melons are present, although almost drowned out by big notes of vanilla, and big punching earthy and grassy notes. Plenty of smoke encapsulating the whole thing.
Mouthfeel: Mid-weight – which is honestly a bit light for an Octomore. Not a lot of burn despite the alcohol percentage.
Finish: Long, earthy, with a perppery spiciness to it. There’s also this strange herbal, eucalyptus-ish note.
The Octomore Eights – Adam Hannet’s “masterclass series” – his first full release since taking the reigns as Bruichladdich’s head distiller. The 8.1 is 8 years old – the second oldest Octomore at release (now the third oldest since the release of Event Horizon at Feis Ile 2019), 3 years more than is standard for Octomore. Bottled as usual at cask strength – 59.3% – with no chill-filtration and no colouring; this has a respectable 167ppm of phenols. Like all the x.1 releases, this whisky was made from Scottish barley, and aged in ex-Bourbon barrels. This release was 42,000 bottles worldwide.
This is actually one of my least favourite Octomore releases, up there with 6.1 and 7.4 – not that a bad Octomore is a poor whisky, just ranked lower than their brethren in my opinion. I was actually loving it right up until the finish – and the strange herbal-eucalyptus notes hit me, and wouldn’t go away. At first I thought perhaps it was just a bad bottle, but I’ve now tried it from 4 different bottles, and always get it to some extent. If you don’t get those notes though; don’t worry – only a very small handfull of people I’ve spoken to seem to agree with me on this point.
The extra 3 years that this whisky has slumbered compared to most Octomore releases has left it much more mellow than most of the x.1 releases – and really showcases to me just how quickly the massive loads of peat die off; Adam really is putting on a masterclass for all of us regular Octomore tragics here. It also shows me why Octmore is usually released at 5 years – as much as I don’t mind this mellower side, and as much as I really do love the 10yo 1st edition, I don’t open a bottle of Octomore for a gentle hug.
Without the finish, which most people don’t seem to have an issue with, this would be a spectacular Octomore. As it is, this is not one of my top picks from the range.
Would I Drink It Again?
Yes. Probably wouldn't buy a bottle though - there are a lot of other Octomore releases that I like a fair bit more.