Nose: Malty, with oodles of honey and vanilla. Smoked meats and canned pears round out the nose for me – apart from the volcanic blast of smoke that is released when you first pop the cork.
Palate: If you like smoke, you’ll love this whisky – I’m not just getting your usual campfire smoke or peat-bog embers or your charred soot/tar smoke – but all three as separate and distinct flavours in your mouth at once. A little bit spicy and bitter at the front of the mouth – like a mixture of over-roasted coffee and seaweed; it settles down with the massive peating levels providing some silky toffee sweetness. The canned pears with some honey make a comeback as it passes over your tongue.
Mouthfeel: A bit warm when it first hits your tongue, and reasonably thick – although not as thick as past Islay Barley releases. More oily than creamy.
Finish: Someone mentioned to me that this was a zombie whisky – in that it just doesn’t die; and that’s not a bad description. The finish is long. There’s hints of some maple-glazed bacon, and the faintest touch of oak spice, but otherwise the finish is all smoke. The tar has departed, but the campfire and the peat bog are fighting a marathon here.
The third of Addam Hannett’s Octomore Eights “Masterclass” series, and the only one that is Octomore’s standard 5 years old. Octomore 8.3 also breaks from the mould of the other Eights by fronting up with a stratospheric peating level of 309ppm. As with previous x.3 releases, 8.3 was distilled in 2011 from 100% Islay barley – in this instance entirely from barley harvested in 2010 from one field on James Brown’s Octomore Farm. 18,000 bottles were filled at an ABV of 61.2%, and as always there was no added colouring, and no chill-filtration.
Octomore 8.3 was aged in separate barrels, with 56% going into ex-Bourbon barrels, and the remaining 44% being split amongst ex-Paulliac wine casks, ex-Ventoux wine casks, ex-Rhone wine casks and ex-Burgundy wine casks, before being married prior to bottling.
This is a decent whisky – not as good as the 8.2, nor the previous Islay Barley, the 7.3, but it isn’t bad – I’ll happily drink my bottle, but I probably won’t hunt around for an extra. I think the biggest issue with this whisky is it’s lack of depth – sure there’s some honey, vanilla, fruit, and meat, comming through; but the over-arching theme of this whisky is just pure smoke. In isolation, I’d be extremely happy with this whisky, but following on from the 7.3 and 8.2 (depending on how you chart your Octomores), there’s just something missing.
A good, but not spectacular Octomore. I feel we may have reached peak peat (those that know me can fall off their chairs now 😂 ). It’s definitely worth grabbing a dram (or two) of though.