Nose: Like a banana sponge cake with lemon & coconut cream icing. A touch of cinnamon, and some earthy notes – with slightly medicinal salty peat overtones.
Palate: Coconut, toffee, cloves, and oak spices, battle with old leather, barbequed meats, and iodine. Touches of vanilla and cinnamon throughout. A little bit salty, yet still sweet.
Mouthfeel: Mid-weight, oily, almost effervescent on the tongue at first – not any real burn though.
Finish: Medium length (which is short for Octomore), salty, spicy – more an impression of the palate slowly dying than any particular flavours of its own.
The fourth, and final, release in Adam Hannett’s Octomore Eights “Masterclass” series. Back to 8 years old after 8.3’s 5 years, and peated to a respectable but not Earth-shattering 170ppm. Distilled from 100% Scottish barley from a 2008 harvest, all 12,000 bottles were filled at 58.7% with no added colouring, and no chill-filtration.
This is Bruichladdich’s 2nd “virgin oak” release of Octomore, after the 7.4; although calling it “virgin oak” is perhaps stretching the principles of the idea. They’re not wrong – as in none of the barrels have held anything other than whisky in them, but only 20% of the spirit was aged in barrels that had never held spirit in them before. The other 80% of the spirit was aged first in ex-Bourbon barrels, before being re-casked into French oak barrels that had held Octomore 7.4 in them. As far as I am aware, a cask is technically virgin if it has never held anything other than whisky – so these barrels were 1st-fill virgin oak, and 2nd-fill virgin oak.
I’m possibly not the best person to rate a virgin-oak whisky; the number of them that I have liked have been few and far between. So for me to say that I found this whisky very meh, actually rates it quite highly for me for a virgin-oak casked whisky. I certainly liked it better than the 7.4 – although I’m unsure whether I rate this above or below the 8.1.