This is the 7th edition of Bruichladdich’s Octomore. For those wondering, the decimal places go as follows – .1 is Bourbon cask matured, .2 is reserved for cask exploration, and .3 is the Islay barley range. So, the 7.1 is of course Bourbon cask matured, bottled at 59.5% abv, and tested at a previously unthinkable level of peat, 208ppm. Octomore 7.1 has slightly fewer ppm than the 6.3 edition that came before it. Yet. This is Octomore. No doubt about it. Bruichladdich are also masters of cask management, and we can trust that they know what they’re doing when they release a 5 year old whisky. Jim McEwan’s knowledge of cooperage has brought a tradition of superb cask selection to his distillery, and a maturation profile that I struggle to find any flaws in at all. Also, after inheriting all the pre-2001 stock, I’m sure the staff at Bruichladdich also know very well the warning signs and dangers of a whisky that has gone over the hill. So here we are, with a 5 year-old Octomore in the glass, and brooding peat clouds have already filled the room.
A touch more restrained than previous editions. There is some thick smokiness on the attack, weighed against light, orange citrus. Some of the less appealing solventy notes come out on this one right off the bat. There’s also a mild, pleasant impression of freshly turned salty beach sand. A very coastal sensation. Thick, oily, nutty, with a bit of dunnage floor. It benefits from having lots of time to open up in the glass. A drop of water brings out the fruit, and tones down the solvents.
A medley of hot peppers, habanero and cayenne. I find myself searching on this one. Nothing really jumping out.
A bit violent. As it leaves the tongue, fatty and potent like gravy.
The finish is what I look forward to in the Octomore releases, and 7.1 pays it off well. Enduring, and lingering, like a healthy drag on a dark cigar. The retro nasal burst of smoke goes off like a nuclear bomb, aftershock, fallout and everything. Lovely.
While the 7.1 is an enjoyable whisky, it doesn’t reach the heights of its brothers that came before it, the 6.1 and 6.3. And I can’t even imagine the difficulty of living in the family of Octomore, in the shadow of such soaring brilliance. Judged as a whisky on its own, and outside of its context, the 7.1 is enjoyable, and well done. And still, in the context of Scotch whisky as a whole, the 7.1 punches in a weight class well above its ticket price. But to anyone who has tasted what an Octomore can be, the 7.1 might come off a tad pale and under-articulated. That’s an assessment I take no pleasure in, being a serious Bruichladdich fan, and someone who wholeheartedly believes in the principles of production and maturation that the Octomore name continues to uphold.
What do you think? Leave a comment below. Feel free to give your opinion and correct me on any facts I’ve bungled. Cheers.