Whisky Review: Octomore Edition 07.3

How does one appreciate an Octomore?

It really is a take it or leave it affair with by far the most peated whiskies in the world. I will admit that to me personally the Octomore has often proven to be a challenging series. However it’s obvious that beneath the assault to the senses, there’s something truly complex about most Octomore releases, I am often amazed at just the spectrum of flavours I can jolt down when I really spend some quality time with a nip..

Take this Octomore 7.3 for example, it’s a whisky with a clear direction – what if we make a whisky with barley sourced from the Octomore farm on Islay?

The new make was made from barley sourced from the Octomore farm on Islay peated to a measly 169 ppm. This 5 year old whisky is in many ways still really raw, but that’s exactly the point.

Muddy and clay like on the nose, there is the fragrant new make note in the mix. The maritime note with a mist of sea salt coming through adding to the depth of the dram. A faint tinge of cotton candy that gets engulfed by that strong betadine note.

The initial English toffee and burnt caramel notes swiftly evolve into something dirtier and grittier on the palate as the seaweed note grows more prominent. This is followed by a bitter maltiness interimxed with a chunk of peat, something that resembles a fresh distillation run coming off the stills. The new make like element makes up the bulk of the body with hints of vanilla and other sugary content sipping in. The burgeoning character of the spices is evident with a slight touch of lemon marmalade; that wee jammy note plays a minor supporting role as the peat continues to develop, releasing minty, grassy notes.

The finishing feels enormous and yet when broken down it appears to be rather sophisticated, a third act that stole the play. Peat bogs burning away as traces of raspberry lozenge, burnt sugar and toasted seeds surface. There is a brush of cocoa powder that conveys the bitterness as the newly milled, highly peated barley just sticks to the teeth.

I brushed my teeth, went to bed and that peat is still there, I keep reminding myself that this is exactly what Bruichladdich aims for with this release. 

I suppose there are obvious ways to make Octomore more conventional but that whisky would’t quite be an Octomore now would it?

Trust the process.

Nicholas