Octomore Masterclass 08.3/309 Islay Barley

Peated Single Malt — Islay, Scotland

4.25 out of 5 stars
Oh, Octomore...it’s been too long. I’ve always considered Octomore as THE love song to peatheads, like myself. I’ve skipped a few vintages since I didn’t necessarily feel the need to try them all. However, when Bruichladdich said the 8.3 Masterclass was the heaviest of them all, well I had to bite. They knew I would- and I hate them for it. This is just like your favorite Octomore- 5 years old and finished in multiple wine casks. This one boasts Islay barley exclusivity (terroir, bitches) and comes in at 309ppm. Can the human tongue even detect an amount that high? I doubt it. It looks good in print and on the packaging, though. It’s standard yellow gold with thin droplets and skinny legs- thanks to the hearty 61.2% ABV. You’ll think your local Dept of Transportation is paving your front yard as soon as the cork is popped. Ah, fresh tar... The nose is...(surprise!) fresh tar, burning tires and smoky alcohol. Pepper burn stings a bit if you get too friendly too early. Give it the time and distance it commands and you’ll pick up some nice, chocolate depth and rich, berry and plum sweetness- provided your nose works like it should. The palate is smoked peppers and a heavy, malt burn. Sugary toffee cremes really balance this out better than any Octomore I can remember. It’s oily and super rich- grasping your tastebuds and attempting to pull them from your tongue. Chocolate-dipped raspberries find their way into the corners of your mouth and do their best to counter the smoke and chili spices. It works. Really, really well. The depth is amazing. The finish is a bit rushed, as more chili and red pepper spice and heavy smoke coat everything. The youthful juice finally reveals some harsh aspects, but you’ll be so focused on how to get the burn to subside you may not notice it. The first few sips I had to restrain myself from reaching for some water to calm the fires. So, my first 2-3 drams were quite amazing here. I was ready to proclaim this the best Octomore I’ve ever had. Ready to score it a 6 on a scale to 5. Then, the oxidation took hold and really deadened this bottle for me. The final few drams seemed flat. Still smoky, still warming, but the fire was out. I started getting cola notes and soft, milky vanilla- which is something I don’t associate with Octomore. It didn’t kill the score, per se, but it was no longer a 6- hell, no longer a perfect 5. Like most Octomore I was sad to see the last few drops fall from the bottle, but my excitement fell with those drops. Maybe I don’t need Octomore anymore. I’m jaded. At $192, I’m not sure it’s a great deal anymore. Jesus, what’s wrong with me? What have I become? 4.25 stars. I’m sad to say that. Cheers, my friends.
192.0 USD per Bottle
  • Anthology

    @LeeEvolved another great rev! The imagery is so on-point I can almost taste it. I’m on a quest to collect as many (if possible all) the Octy vintages as possible. So far have v6.1 -> 9.3 so I’m looking fwd to comparing notes when I inevitably crack open the 8.3. I wonder if should proceed sequentially up by vintage or by ppm. Thoughts?

  • Anthology

    Great rev

  • PBMichiganWolverine

    @cascode yup—I think you’re right—the higher peat ppm might extend the finish. So...I think that’s because there’s more concentrations in the air and mouth, so lingers and lingers

  • cascode

    @PBMichiganWolverine I've certainly found that to be so. The one area in which uber-high peat count does show through for me is length. It may not be more intense, but it echoes on for longer in waves. The 10 y.o. is just as much a peat monster as the 5 year expressions. @Scott_E The 5.1 was a great classic @Soba45 Ha! peak peat :) Yes, I think that happened for me a while ago. I still love smokeys but more and more my tastes have veered towards a waxy, coastal highland profile with just a breath of smoke as my "happy place". Clynelish, Benromach on the east - Springbank and Ben Nevis on the west. I could live happily with just those.

  • Soba45

    Peak peat happens to the best of us..haha. Hmm that might be why I thought the Octos I've had were good but not great as I had drams were from bottles opened I have no idea how long. And yes very overpriced even in todays mkt.

  • Scott_E

    @LeeEvolved great review. The tar-enfused aroma... My first Octomore was the 5.1 and I loved it. It’s just outside my price range otherwise it would be in my collection. This one sounds quite great and I will have seek out a nice joint (Jack Rose?) and have me a pour.

  • PBMichiganWolverine

    @LeeEvolved I have the newest 10 yr old (9.4). I have plans of opening that up...will send over a pour. I’m guessing it’s no longer a peat monster at that age, but probably more complex

  • LeeEvolved

    @PBMichiganWolverine - I haven’t had anything higher than this 8.3/309. I do have a bottle of the second release of the 10 year Octomore, but I suspect it’s going to be opened for a special occasion.

  • PBMichiganWolverine

    Did you try any of their 9 series ( it’s supposedly pretty good )

  • PBMichiganWolverine

    @LeeEvolved the human tongue can’t detect above 50ppm or so. So it’s always other factors that can make it stand out above those levels ( casks type and quality, ingredients, etc )