Yesterday I was part of an online tasting with Lynne McEwan (Jim’s daughter) and the Belgian Bruichladdich ambassador Nick Baeyens. They presented the three expressions of the Octomore 11 series, as well as the latest 10 Year Old. I’m still ventilating my room.
Octomore 11.1 was distilled from 100% Scottish grown Concerto and Propino barley, matured in first-fill American oak whiskey casks from Jim Beam, Heaven Hill and Jack Daniels.
Octomore 11.1 5 yo 2014 (59,4%, OB 2020, 139.6 ppm)
Nose: stones on a beach, salty notes and sweet malt with vanilla crème patissière and marshmallows. Sweet grapefruit, pear and candied ginger. Macadamia nuts. It’s only in the background that you get some glazed, smoky bacon and iodine. Actually quite buttery and smooth, even with a light floral touch. Complex, excellent.
Mouth: sweet, creamy and relatively palatable. A good amount of vanilla again, then nuts and light tobacco, slowly becoming saltier and more peaty, with growing grassy notes. Lots of dry ashes and some spicy oak.
Finish: long, ashy, woody with lots of vanilla. Smoked almonds.
A great Octomore with a perfect balance of vanilla sweetness and savoury, smoked bacon. A fairly naked but clean and balanced version. Available from The Whisky Exchange and Master of Malt for instance.
Next up, edition 11.2, which is a blend of two parcels:
- Parcel 1 was matured in European oak casks brought over from the Pauillac region (Bordeaux red wine) – 25%
- Parcel 2 was filled into ex-American oak and transferred to Cabernet Sauvignon barriques from the Saint Julie region – 75%
Octomore 11.2 5 yo 2014 (58,6%, OB 2020, 139.6 ppm)
Nose: immediately winey but not too overpowering. Hints of red berries, sour cherries and Christmas stollen on the nose, with rum in raisins. More leather and oak spice as well, that’s the European oak. This mulled wine note makes it wintery but I prefer them in a classic bourbon cask.
Mouth: leafy, with tobacco and plenty of spice (nutmeg, clove, pepper) mixing with sweet plums, cherry liqueur and glazed bacon. Quite some drying tannins and a metallic touch. Oak aright. Dark brewed tea. Liquorice and toast. The wine also brings along subtle rubbery touches.
Finish: very long, with deep smoke, crushed black peppercorns, blackberry tea and a faint salty note.
The wine casks are not really my friend, even when they’re not overdone. I prefer the clean, sweet roundness of the bourbon barrels . I’m sure some will find this richer and more of a campfire dram though. This is an online exclusive: available from the Bruichladdich webshop.
Last release in this series. Concerto barley grown on the Octomore farm, matured in first-fill American oak whiskey casks.
Octomore 11.3 5 yo 2014 ‘Islay Barley’ (61,7%, OB 2020, 194 ppm)
Nose: back to the sweet American oak of 11.1 in a way, but it’s fresher and brighter, with more salty sea spray, almonds, lemons and a hint of mint. A bit less vanilla. Yellow apples and peaches in the background. More towards yoghurt than sweet custard.
Mouth: very salty now, definitely the most maritime of the series. A more oily texture as well. A hint of tart berries and lemons. It’s less peaty but what’s left is more heathery and medicinal, whereas 11.1 seemed to revolve around warm mainland peat more. Some TCP, a slightly numbing peppery feel as well. Oak spice towards the end.
Finish: long but somehow less than the others. Hints of burnt rosemary, kippers and lean peat smoke.
This is much more refined than the other two. This feels older better, more integrated and more Islay for that matter. My favourite in series 11. Available from Master of Malt or The Whisky Exchange for instance.
As a bonus dram, we have the latest edition of Octomore 10 Year Old, the fourth edition. It’s distilled from Optic barley (100% Scottish) and matured in a combination of virgin oak, first- and second fill whiskey casks from Jim Beam, Heaven Hill, Buffalo Trace and Jack Daniels.
Octomore 10 Year Old 2009 (54,3%, OB 2020, fourth edition, 208 ppm, 12000 btl.)
Nose: quite a fruity nose, perhaps because the peat is slightly tempered. Wet oak, wet wool, coal smoke and some earthy notes. Behind this there are nectarines and hints of barbecued pineapple. Almonds again. Some hay. Nicely integrated and mature.
Mouth: quite a mellow attack, with an oily texture and more fruity notes again. Smoked peaches, blood oranges, a hint of charred vanilla pods and a velvety, slightly meaty note. A slightly drying, leathery feeling towards the end.
Finish: long and drying, with oak spice and tobacco leaves. Quite a lot of wood here.
Remember the ppm is measured in the malted barley, so this could well be less peaty than the others as it will have lost a big part during the (longer) maturation. Good, but slightly below the third release. Available from Master of Malt or TyndrumWhisky for instance.