After the sweet and weak Glenfiddich, time for a potential beast. This Octomore, the brainchild of Jim McEwan was, when it was released, the most heavily peated Whisky in the world. Today we look a little bit differently at 140 ppm, since Octomore 06.3 is peated to a level of 258 ppm! Octomore 06.3 is a lovely Whisky and shows quite some fruits and the peat doesn’t even seem that heavy as it sounds. But time to rewind a bit and have a look at Octomore 02.1 that was already released in 2009. The first Octomore that was released is known to the world as 01.1, peated to a level of 131 ppm and bottled in 2008. The first ever Octomore distilled by Jim has never been released, but a small group of people had the chance to try it at the Whisky Show 2015 in London earlier this month, and Jim has probably brought it with him elsewhere too. The first ever Octomore was distilled in 2002 and peated to a level of 80.4 ppm. Filled into a first fill Oloroso butt and bottled at 62.3% ABV. I didn’t take notes since I was listening to Jim, but managed to score it 91 Points.
Color: Very light gold.
Nose: Fatty peat and hints of red fruits, mostly berries. Peated barley and slightly medicinal, iodine. Smoky. Actually this smells like a lot of Whiskies from Islay do. In nothing you get that it is more than heavily peated. When you let it breathe for a while, a more (yellow fruity) sweetness emerges. Altogether for this to reach a more balanced state, you must give it some time. More meaty, smoky, tarry and salty aroma’s emerge. Burning off dry plants. Licorice, sweet wood and smoke in the mist. Wait even longer and hints of menthol and lemon can be smelled. the whole gets even softer. Old furniture and even creamy. Vanilla Ice cream with pepper and salt. Old paint and some nuttiness emerge late. Cotton candy. If you handle it well, if you are patient with it and use a glass that can handle air well, you’ll be rewarded. Wonderful nose which keeps on giving and giving.
Taste: Again very creamy. Peppery and lots of it. Peppery attack with lots of licorice and sweet wood. Matches the nose perfectly. Quite sweet, but the rest of the aroma’s are pretty “there” as well so it handles the sweetness perfectly. Hints of old wood integrated with the licorice. Lots in common with Port Charlotte (obviously). Taste is very balanced, but less complex than the nose. It will be great to see Octomore (and Port Charlotte) mature.
Excellent example of a Whisky you have to work hard for, to be rewarded. It needs a lot of time and air to be at it’s best and show you all it’s got. Use the wrong glass or being impatient with it, will degrade this to nothing special at all. This is a wonderful yet modern spirit, which already is great if you know where to look. Lots of potential. The aroma’s are so big it even hides the high strength. I didn’t try it with water, but I’m sure it will take water well. Pour yourself a dram and then drink something else first, come back to this later.