Shutdown due to a lack of stakeholder interest and ever changing dynamics within the whisky industry, the Bruichladdich distillery was home to cobwebs, empty stills, a hollow silence and possibly lost dreams. The beginning of 2001 however brought in the sound of uncared gates being flung open after around 7 years of neglect; when a group of private investors showed interest in bringing life to this defunct still. During the first half of 2001, workers were engaged in dismantling and re-assembling the distillery, keeping much of the original equipment as is.
Somewhere along the way in Bruichladdich’s history, peat found itself divided between the main stream expressions that would come to represent the distillery. The Bruichladdich being totally void of any peat was their vanilla version, Port Charlotte being heavily peated comes in at around 40 pppm and finally the Octomore, named after the farm that provides the barley for this expression, a peat bomb with pppm levels between 100 and 200!
The Octomore first saw itself in shelves in April 2008, bottled at a respectable 80.5 pppm from spirits distilled in 2002. With an edition introduced almost every following year, the 10th edition found its origins in October 2019. The Octomore 10.1 was made from spirits distilled in 2012 and matured for five years in first filled American ex-bourbon barrels sourced from Jim Beam, Jack Daniels, Buffalo Trace and Heaven Hill. Peated to 107 ppm, this is a subtly peated Octomore, lower than previous editions, reason why the distillers describe the expression to exhibit a softer nature than its siblings.
ABV : 59.8%, Cask Strength
Eye : Pale Gold | Non Chill Filtered, No Caramel Colouring
Nose : Vanilla cake with slices of nectarines; smoke and char like an ashtray filled with moist ash and brine, coupled with an almost abused leather like scent. Fruity undertones – melons, hints of red grapes, bits of dried fruits, and pepper.
Taste : Lovingly oily and viscous on the palate, the 10.1 begins with honey and vanilla. Trailing behind are raisins, dried hay and tropical nuances, intercepted by a handful of rasberries infused with what seemed like a savoury curry, olives, char and earth. Cigarette ash with a sweet after-taste along with the spice of crushed bay leaves.
Finish : Bay leaves with that bit of vanilla, ash and peat.
The 10.1 is well bodied and silky on the palate, elaborating itself with long distinct, well defined legs. Surely wouldn’t have identified it to be a five year old whisky if it wasn’t for the labelling, and for a young whisky this boasts a strong set of flavours both in terms of breadth and depth.
This expression is exclusively matured in first fill American ex-bourbon barrels, and hence in my opinion though not really colourful is yet very true to itself. The smoke is so subtle, flavourful, balanced and delightful that it is in no sense harsh or heavy; again surprising for a young, amateurish, cask strength that might not have had enough time to coexist with its wooden abode, but it has! A tad bit expensive at about AUD $210, but considering it’s unique USP, this is a wonderful dram that boasts of how peat can influence and even polarise the bulk of the whiskies’ flavour without putting you off !!
PS : Every Octomore has meaning to its nomenclature. For example, the “10” in 10.1 represents the Edition and the decimal value, the following:
.1 : Distilled from 100% Scottish barley, aged ONLY in ex-american oak
.2 : Distilled from 100% Scottish barley, aged in European Oak.
.3 : Distilled from 100% Islay barley, aged generally in a combination of ex-american and ex-european casks.
.4 : Usually the most heavily peated amongst the lot for a particular edition; matured in virgin oak sometimes in conjunction with ex-american barrels and sometimes only pure virgin.