Showing posts with label Octomore. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Octomore. Show all posts

Friday, October 1, 2021

Breaking News!


 

Breaking News!

 

If it is October, that must mean that Bruichladdich is getting ready to release its next batch of Octomore single malts.  We, at the Whiskeyfellow News Center, have confirmed through our esteemed sources that, yes indeed, October started this morning!

 

What’s this mean for you? Well, we can’t disclose all the details yet, but we can tell you that Octomore 12 will be featuring three expressions, one of which has been so exclusive in the past that until now, no one could obtain it outside of Duty-Free shops!

 

Octomore 12 is currently en route from Islay and will arrive in the United States shortly.

 

Our news anchor, Whiskeyfellow, and eleven other whisky mavens (known as The Octomore 12) have delved deep into the Octomore 12 line and will publish their findings in the coming days. Be on the lookout for more breaking news from The Scotch Noob, Whisky Monster, Barrel Raised, The Scotch Girl, Marvel at Whisky, Whiskey Lore, The Whiskey Jug, Dram Dude, The Scotchtress, The Charred Cask, and Whisky A Go Girl.

 

Until then, cheers!



Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you do so responsibly.


Friday, October 2, 2020

Octomore Ten Years Single Malt Scotch Whisky Review & Tasting Notes

 


This is the final chapter of a three-part review series of the Octomore 11 release from Bruichladdich. For those of you who are unfamiliar with it, Octomore is an annual release of whiskies. But, it isn't just another whisky - Octomore boasts to be the heaviest-peated Scotches around.


Two days ago, I reviewed Octomore 11.1, and I also explained what peat was. Feel free to swing back to that review for a detailed explanation, as well as what makes Octomore truly different in terms of Scotch. Yesterday, I reviewed Octomore 11.3.


And that brings me to Octomore Ten Years. Octomore Ten Years is released every other year (it cycles with Octomore x.4 as a biannual release). Before we get there, I'll invite you to check out how to decode the Octomore numbering system, which was composed by Scotch Trooper and MarvelAtWhisky.


As a single malt, it starts with 100% Scottish-grown Optic Barley. It was then aged ten years using a combination of virgin oak, first- and second-fill American oak from Jim Beam, Heaven Hill, Buffalo Trace, and Jack Daniel's.  It is natural-colored, non-chill filtered, and cask strength at 54.3% ABV (108.6°). The yield was 12,000 bottles. 


And then, it becomes time to separate the adults from the kids. We're talking phenols, which is the technical term for peatiness and are measured in parts per million (PPM).  A few of the heaviest-peated Scotches out there top off at 55 PPM (think Ardbeg).  Most are well below that. Then you have the super-heavy peated Octomore collection:

  • Octomore 11.1 is 139.6 PPM
  • Octomore 11.3 is 194 PPM
  • Octomore Ten Years buries all of them at 208 PPM!

Just as I did in my 11.1 and 11.3 reviews, I want to pony up some transparency: I was provided samples of these three Octomore releases in exchange for reviews. I've been recruited as part of a group of US-based whiskey writers dubbed The Octomore Eleven. We were selected to assist with the launch of Octomore 11. However, my review is 100% mine, it is as always my true tasting notes and experience. As you know, my reputation is everything.


I want to make one other thing clear. It would be a huge mistake to pour Octomore into a glass and drink it without letting it breathe. Bruichladdich recommends eight minutes. I recommend between ten and fifteen.


And, with all that out of the way, it is time to #DrinkCurious tell you how this peat bomb holds up.


Appearance:  In my Glencairn glass, Octomore Ten Years presents as a dull gold. This is very likely from the virgin oak casks, as the 11.1 and 11.3 were very pale. It left a medium-thick rim that created a fat curtain (I couldn't even call them droplets) that crashed back to the pool.


Nose:  File this one under duh! because the first thing I smelled was the peat. Once my olfactory sense got used to that, it was easy to find citrus, pear, apple, vanilla, honey, and toasted oak.  When I inhaled through my lips, the air brought a rush of vanilla to race across my palate. It was a bomb of vanilla.


Palate:  My initial sip suggested a Scotch with a medium body. Subsequent tastings became creamier. And, as expected, the first flavors were very smoky with some ash. Once the palate shock subsided, I tasted an earthy malt along with vanilla on the front. As the whisky moved to mid-palate, cocoa powder and nutmeg quickly morphed to citrus and apricot. Then, on the back, a blend of toasted oak, brine, and white pepper.


Finish:  Of the three, I believe Ten Years had the longest, smokiest finish. That didn't surprise me considering the phenol difference. Very dry oak, likely from the virgin casks, led to clove, chocolate, pear, and finally malt.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Just as 11.1 and 11.3 were eye-opening for their balance despite the peat, Ten Years didn't disappoint. Unlike 11.1 and 11.3, I prepared myself for the blast and didn't let my brain get ahead of my palate. 


Similar to the other releases, I have no idea what MSRP is on this. But, I've seen Octomore 10.x on the shelf at stores and the prices were in the low-to-mid $100s range.  But, Ten Years wasn't part of the 10.x series (because it would have been an x.4 year). Being twice as old and less available, I'd safely assume higher. 


You absolutely, positively have to be a fan of peat if you're even going to consider any Octomore release. It is not a starting point. 


I do enjoy peated whiskies and I appreciated everything Octomore Ten Years had to offer. Without knowing the price, I'm giving this one a Bottle rating.


So, what's my final verdict on the Octomore series?  They're all bodacious, but I rate them in order as 11.1, Ten Years, and 11.3. Cheers!



My Simple, Easy-to-Understand Rating System:
  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try it
  • Bust = Leave It




Thursday, October 1, 2020

Octomore 11.3 Single Malt Scotch Whisky Review & Tasting Notes


This is two of a three-part review series of the Octomore 11 release from Bruichladdich. For those of you who are unfamiliar with it, Octomore is an annual release of whiskies. But, it isn't just another whisky - Octomore boasts to be the heaviest-peated Scotches around.


Yesterday, I reviewed Octomore 11.1, and I also explained what peat was.  Feel free to swing back to that review for a detailed explanation, as well as what makes Octomore truly different in terms of Scotch. 


Today's review is Octomore 11.3What's the difference, you may ask?  Well, both are made with 100% Scotland-grown barley grown in 2013 and harvested in 2014. Octomore 11.1 was aged in first-fill American oak from Jim Beam, Wild Turkey, Heaven Hill, and Jack Daniel's. Octomore 11.3 uses first fill barrels from the same sources, except without Wild Turkey. Both are naturally-colored, and both are non-chill filtered.  Octomore 11.3 uses barley grown on the Octomore Farm, the other expressions use 100% Scottish-grown barley. 


At five years old, 11.3 comes out of the barrel at 61.7% ABV compared to 11.1, which was 59.4% ABV. That's not a huge difference but a few points can differ enough. Octomore 11.1 had a yield of 30,000 bottles compared to Octomore 11.3's 18,000 bottles. But, where things get really crazy is 11.1 has 139.6 PPM of phenols... compare that to 11.3 with a monstrous 194 PPM!


Just as I did in my 11.1 review, I want to offer some transparency: I was provided samples of Octomore 11.1, 11.3, and 10-Year in exchange for reviews. I've been recruited as part of a group of US-based whiskey writers dubbed The Octomore Eleven. We were selected to assist with the launch of Octomore 11. However, my review is 100% mine, it is as always my true tasting notes and experience. As you know, my reputation is everything.


I want to make one other thing clear. It would be a huge mistake to pour Octomore into a glass and drink it without letting it breathe. Bruichladdich recommends eight minutes. I recommend between ten and fifteen.


And, with all that out of the way, it is time to #DrinkCurious and discover what this peat-bomb has to offer.


Appearance:  In my Glencairn glass, Octomore 11.3 presented as the color of straw. It created a thin rim with heavy, fat legs that slowly crawled back to the pool of liquid sunshine.


Nose:  The aroma of peat is overly obvious. However, with almost 39% more phenols than 11.1, the peat was somehow softer. Underneath the peat, I found an orchard full of citrus, pear, and apple combined with vanilla, honey, caramel, malt, and milk chocolate. When I inhaled through my lips, flavors of peat and honey rolled over my palate.


Palate:  As the whiskey passed my lips, it offered a thin body and was almost watery. It also was less peaty than I expected, although that may have been psyching myself up for it.  Joining the peat on the front was mild iodine.  Mid-palate, there was a very fruity mix of pear and apple. They were accompanied by cocoa powder. Then, on the back, I tasted clove, nutmeg, and smoked oak.


Finish:  A medium-to-long, creamy finish of toffee, chocolate, and clove skidded into white pepper before finally falling off.  


Bottle, Bar, or Bust: The 194 PPM phenol count was less intense than I assumed it would be. Like 11.1, this whisky was well-balanced and so much more than smoke. The nose and palate were complex and interesting.



The unknown factor for me is the price. I have not been provided with suggested retail prices, but I have seen Octomore previous releases in the low-to-mid-$100 range, and I'm willing to go out on a limb and suggest it is in that neighborhood.  



Let's get serious here - peat is not for everyone. Something super-heavily peated will to fall into more of a niche market. I really enjoy peated whiskies and I enjoyed this.  Despite the fact I prefer 11.1 over 11.3, this still earns my Bottle rating. Feel the peat, but don't fear it. Cheers!


My Simple, Easy-to-Understand Rating System:

  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try it
  • Bust = Leave It





Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Octomore 11.1 Single Malt Scotch Whisky Review & Tasting Notes


This is one of a three-part review series of the Octomore 11 release from Bruichladdich.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with it, Octomore is an annual release of whiskies. But, it isn't just another whisky - Octomore boasts to be the heaviest-peated Scotches around.


The fascinating thing about Octomore is the whole idea isn't supposed to work. But, before I explain why, the big question is, What is peat? In a nutshell, peat is the waste of plant material that is compressed in bogs and marshes. It is abundant around the world. Peat is typically harvested in bricks. The bricks are then burned for its heat in various gardening uses.


In terms of whisky, peat is used to dry barley and cease the germination process. Burning peat results in phenols, or smoky qualities, and phenols are measured in parts per million (PPM). Your heavily-peated Scotches, typically from the Islay region of Scotland, such as Laphroaig, Lagavulin, and Ardbeg for the most part ring in somewhere at 55 PPM or less. 


Now, let's cycle back. Why should the whole idea of Octomore be unworkable?  Firstly, the PPM is about 2.5 times that of those other Scotches. Secondly, it is a younger whiskey. Thirdly, it is bottled at cask strength. What that should translate to is a young, hot, batch of alcohol that stinks like burning tires.


Today I'm reviewing Octomore 11.1.  It starts with 100% Concerto and Prodino Scottish grown barley which was harvested in 2013. That barley was distilled in 2014 and then aged in first-fill American whiskey barrels from Jim Beam, Wild Turkey, Heaven Hill, and Jack Daniel's. At five years old, it came out of the barrel at 59.4% ABV.  There was no chill-filtering done and it is naturally colored. The yield was 30,000 bottles.


What have I left out of that description? The 139.6 PPM of phenols!


Does that sound a bit scary? Will Octomore 11.1 have any quality aside from smoke and ash? The only way to know for sure is to #DrinkCurious.  However, before I do that, I need to offer some transparency.


I was provided samples of Octomore 11.1, 11.3, and 10-Year in exchange for reviews. I've been recruited as part of a group of US-based whiskey writers dubbed The Octomore Eleven. We were selected to assist with the launch of Octomore 11. However, my review is 100% mine, it is as always my true tasting notes and experience. As you know, my reputation is everything.


I want to make one other thing clear. It would be a huge mistake to pour Octomore into a glass and drink it without letting it breathe. Bruichladdich recommends eight minutes. I recommend between ten and fifteen. 


Appearance:  In my Glencairn glass, 11.1 appeared as the color of sauvignon blanc wine. It was pale and clear. It left a medium rim that stuck to the wall like glue. Flat, slow legs eventually formed but even after they dropped, the rim remained.  


Nose:  While I was giving this my ten-minute wait, sitting outside on my deck, the smoky peat was evident. It made my mouth water. Yet, when I went to start the nosing process, the peat was much less than I prepared myself for.  The aroma of peat, of course, was there. But, I found brine, pear, citrus, apricot, and a sweet floral quality. When I inhaled through my lips, the smoke and pear teased my palate.


Palate:  The mouthfeel had a warming, medium body. It came as no surprise that smoky peat would be there. It took a sip or two to start identifying what lay beneath.  Smoke and black pepper were up on the front. Mid-palate became a very complex recipe of pear, apple, citrus, cocoa, and mace. Then, on the back, I ran into clove that I could almost chew and brine. 


Finish:  A very long and lasting finish of smoke, oak, and clove remained. The clove rolled on and on and suddenly fell off a cliff.  It did make my hard palate tingle. 


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Despite the explosive number of 139.6 PPM, this whisky was well-balanced and so much more than smoke. I almost psyched myself out and was a cautious taking that first sip. I prepared to have my palate wrecked, but that never happened. I was pleased with how much complexity existed and how flavorful this Scotch turned out. 


The unknown factor for me is the price. I have not been provided with suggested retail prices, but I have seen Octomore previous releases in the low-to-mid-$100 range, and I'm willing to go out on a limb and suggest it is in that neighborhood. Octomore 11.1 is absolutely in a class by itself, and while it isn't the destroyer of palates that made me nervous, you absolutely must be a fan of peated whiskies, otherwise, this is not the dip-your-toe-in-the-pool opportunity. 


As for myself, I really enjoy peated whiskies and was very impressed. If that's your jam, too, then you'll also appreciate my Bottle rating for Octomore 11.1. Feel the peat, but don't fear it. Cheers!




Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Bruichladdich: The Octomore Eleven

 


  • Part One of The Octomore 11 Insider's Guide, "Background and History of Bruichladdich" has been released and can be found on ScotchNoob's blog
  • Part Three of The Octomore 11 Insider’s Guide, “The Numbering System and History of Releases,” is live on The Whiskey Jug's blog
  • Part Four of The Octomore 11 Insider's Guide, "Processes and Recipes," is live on Whisky Monster's blog
  • Part Five of the Octomore 11 Insider's Guide, "Tasting Advice and Notes" is live on Whisky Monster's blog as well
  • Part Six of the Octomore 11 Insider's Guide, "Food Pairings and Settings" is live on The Charred Cask's blog


Octomore.  Have you heard about it?  If that's new to you, it is a Scotch for folks who love peat. I don't mean just a little peat. I mean a mouthful of it! You see, Octomore, which is made by Bruichladdich, is hands-down the most heavily-peated Scotch around. More peat than Laphroig. More peat than Lagavulin. More peat than even Ardbeg. 


Octomore is a special release each Fall. Fans run to the store and snag their bottles as soon as it is released, they post all over social media photos of their trophies, just like what happens with many coveted whiskey releases. Well, here we are, it is Fall, and the 11th incarnation is about to hit the shelves on October 1st.


I've always been big on transparency. That's one of the things I point out when folks do things right, especially in the whiskey business. I also hold myself to that very rigorous standard - I am always transparent with my readers.



 The Octomore 11 consist of the following: 


We were paired together (which was an interesting challenge all by itself)  to each write a section of this handbook.  I was teamed up with Nathan to pen the Background and History of Bruichladdich, which is the first installment. Nathan is a great guy, and despite the fact we have very different writing styles, I believe we meshed well together.


So, yes, there is sponsored content that I am sharing today, and yes, that means I was paid for my contribution to The Octomore 11 Insider's Guide. But, Nathan and I did our own research and what we've put together is our own thoughts.


As far as how I'm approaching the tasting notes and my final recommendations, those are not sponsored content and you can expect from me what you have always expected from me: You're going to get my honest opinion on the Octomore 11 releases. This week I will also publish my reviews on Octomore 11.1, Octomore 11.3, and Octomore 10 Year


And now, it is time to release the first two sections of the Insider's Guide.  The first, as mentioned, was created by Nathan and me, and that chapter is being hosted on his ScotchNoob blog. The second installment is called The Origins of Octomore, composed by Scotch Trooper and Marvel at Whisky. As neither has a dedicated blog, I'm hosting it on mine. This is a fascinating read, and I hope you enjoy it. Cheers!

 

2. The Origins of Octomore

On the Origin of Octomore by Means of Masterful Selection, and the Preservation of Peated Malt in the Struggle for Whisky Perfection. (cite: Charles Darwin)


 

With a wee wry smile, he’d say “because no one else had the balls to do it”.

 

When it comes to the origins of Octomore, it may have started with a singular experiment to see how peaty Jim McEwan could make a whisky, but that was just the beginning.

 

Bruichladdich has always been known as an experimental distillery, the “progressive Hebridean distillers”, yet in 2002, that state of mind took on a whole new meaning. With the production of a whisky peated to 80 parts per million (PPM) – the measurement used to determine the phenol content of the malted barley – a benchmark was set. In that moment, 80 PPM defined a brand identity and “Octo”, the Greek and Latin word for eight, became the root from which the name Octomore was born.

 

As with all pioneers, challenging the status quo is habitual, and once that dream had been conceived, retreat was simply not an option. In the world of Octomore, to dare is to do. Yet to defy the traditionalists and all that is accepted in the world of whisky, was thought a fruitless mission, an experiment that could not succeed. How could it?

 

A young, super heavily peated, cask strength whisky would go against the very grain of widely-adopted industry conventions, it was an impossible task, and solving it, an impossible equation. For Jim and his team however, what was to become the Octomore equation, was the evolution of much more than simply the pursuit of peat. Octomore presented Bruichladdich with the opportunity to consider whisky in its entirety, to explore the sum total of what can be created when you start with no preconceived notions.

 

And so, with only one constant – that the whisky should never be less than 80 PPM, the Octomore team set forth on a journey of discovery of the spirit, the peat, the cask and the process. With no knowing of what was to be realized and wild variations from batch by batch, that inconsistency became the very story of Octomore.

 

Therein lies the impossible equation: What if the sum total of all these unlikely parts, sewn together through a philosophy of intrigue, curiosity and innovation, meant that an improbable theory was actually solvable? A concept which should be unthinkable, let alone drinkable, was actually a revelation. 

 

Over the years that followed, Octomore has typically been released after a 5 year maturation period, peated up to a mind-bending 309 PPM and bottled at around 60% abv. The series has prevailed and become an accepted formula that proves nothing is impossible. When it comes to Octomore, there is simply nothing else like it.

 

Octomore is one of those whiskies, that if you know, well, you know. When you nose that glass, when that liquid touches your lips and you taste it, you can’t help but acknowledge the progressiveness of Octomore – a spirit of flawless integrity, a dram which respects the past, but does not live in its shadow. You realize the spirit is not too young, the cask and maturation process has been kind and imparted sweet, fruity and floral notes with a rich and mouth-coating profile. It is undeniably about the quality of the cask, not necessarily how long the spirit rests in there. You can taste the quality of distillation, the smoothness and balanced mouthfeel. This is a whisky that’s not driven by peat, what you think and what you taste are two different things. Rather, the peat binds the flavors together, not overbearing in any sense, complimenting and warming through the long finish.

 

Octomore is not a whisky for everyone, and that’s how we like it. For those that have risen to the challenge and spent time solving this impossible equation, they know, there is no other cult whisky that stands alongside it.

 

Part One of The Octomore 11 Insider's Guide, "Background and History of Bruichladdich" has been released and can be found on Scotch Noob's blog.

Part Three of The Octomore 11 Insider’s Guide, “The Numbering System and History of Releases,” will release tomorrow. Check back here for a link!


Rich a.k.a. @marvelatwhisky is a content creator widely recognised for this distinct visual identity of fusing spirits with animated characters. Whilst his public persona is designed to showcase his creative expression and technical skills, most of his work with brands is focused on graphic design and visual effects, rather than the superheroes for which he is renowned. Rich is an avid enthusiast of the golden spirits, be it Scotch, Whisk(e)y, Bourbon or Rye and advocates passionately for its use in resolving global conflict.





Brett is a whisky enthusiast with a Star Wars problem. He has worn many hats in the industry, but the one he enjoys most is sharing his whisky knowledge while playing with toys. Brett's mission has always been to show the light side of whisky by making it fun and approachable.