Soba45

Octomore 06.1/167 Scottish Barley

Peated Single Malt — Islay, Scotland

Tasted
4.25
4.25 out of 5 stars
After coming down off the highs of two rich Armangnacs this on first taste was disappointing however adding water really opened it up. As SH said vanilla, coconut, butter and more. It really is a lovely dram on the palate and lingers long on the side of the tounge. Now a couple of caveats. It says it's the peatiest dram...hmm that I just do not get. I suspect it's a case of measuring the peat levels of the barley then distilling it in a number of ways which miminise the end result. Although as PBM mentioned a while back there comes a point your palate really just doesn't notice additional pbm levels (I just noticed two acronyms with two separate meanings!). I think where this one falls short a bit for me is i'm not a fan of the more lighter acidic peat type drams I prefer the rich full bodied Lagavullin 16 or Laphroaig 10 / Lore approach. The aftertaste is less than the mid taste. It does carry with a nice warming glow but nothing spectacular. Still if you are a fan of this peat style I can see why you would rate it so highly it is excellently blanced and executed on the mid palate. I'd rate this 3rd after the Black Art 4 1990 and Octomore 10 yr Dialogos. 4.25 - 4.5.
  • cascode

    @Rick_M Ha, I'm a bit long in the tooth for a career move, but if I could do it all again from when I was 18 I'd move heaven and earth to get into the whisky industry in Scotland. Oh, and I don't think you'll be disappointed in that MRC:01 at all.

  • Rick_M

    @ScotchingHard - I’ve been kicking myself for spending $125 for a 7yo PC MRC:01. Maybe I won’t be disappointed if I ever get around to opening it. :)

  • Rick_M

    yup @cascode - your gonna make a good stillman some day! :)

  • cascode

    If you want to dive right down the rabbit hole on the subject of peat one of the best articles is"Composition of Peats Used in the Preparation of Malt for Scotch Whisky Production : Influence of Geographical Source and Extraction Depth" by Harrison & Priest. Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry, Issue 57, 2009 pp. 2385–2391. It's more about varietal congener content but mentions kilning effects in passing.

  • cascode

    @ScotchingHard That makes perfect sense. The average congener carrying capacity for a 40% alcohol solution is 0.13%, whereas at 55% abv it is 0.18% [Buxton & Hughes cited below, p.91]. So yes, higher alcohol concentration does carry more aroma and flavour.

  • cascode

    @Rick_M Hi mate, no the Russell and Stewart book glosses over the subject. The data about kilning is from "The Science and Commerce of Whisky" by Buxton & Hughes pp.101-105. It's a very complex topic but the data I gave is an accurate thumbnail. The data about distillation speed is from "The Handbook of Alcoholic Beverages" chapter 19. This is published by Wiley Academic and is a mammoth 3-volume tome. It is the basic textbook for technical school courses on distillation. The extrapolation of the data to the Bruichladdich/Octomore situation is based on first-hand conversation with Jim McEwan at a masterclass two years ago. He said they specified low temperature kilning from Port Ellen maltings, and that they ran the stills at a bare trickle.

  • Soba45

    @Rick_M @cascode Ah very interesting thanks for the info. I think it comes down to expectations a bit with this one. With a 4.4 average score it screams the most perfect thing on earth so expectations were set extremely high and I was looking for all round perfection. I think if I hadn't known that then perhaps more a solid 4.5. Still out of a number of drams on the night it was no. 1 for me. Easily besting drams with nearly 20 years age on it. I'd definately like to work though a bottle

  • ScotchingHard

    @Rick_M I have noticed that PC is smokier than Octomores. Right now, cask strength PCs are the smokiest of all whiskies for my palate.

  • Rick_M

    @cascode - are you quoting from that nice $300 book on distillation you sprung for a while back? :)

  • cascode

    As I understand it there are two main reasons for the high phenol content in Octomore. The malt kilning process is tediously slow and takes place at low temperature because when malted barley is dried using peat smoke the aromatic hydrocarbons will only "stick" to the surface of the seed when it is above 15% moisture. Secondly, the more slowly the still is run (again, low temperature) the more the initial PPM will carry over to the new-make. Cut points are also a factor, but probably not the major one. PPM is also not directly correlated with subjective "smokiness" but is noticed in a more subtle manner. For example, I actually prefer the taste of Port Charlotte to Octomore and to me it is more pleasantly and strongly "smoky", but Octomore usually has much greater length.

  • Rick_M

    @Soba45 - yes, this is the great mystery of Octomore. When we visited Islay a few years back, I regret not getting to Bruichladdich distillery for a tour, but will some day make it back. It’s hard to believe they are using the same stills for all of their expressions, because Port Charlotte seems much more peated than Octomore despite its much higher ppm count. A tall-necked still will remove more of the volatiles than a short-necked. Assuming they use the same stills for both expressions, then where they make their cuts can also be a big factor. Avoiding that piece of the distillation laden with smokey volatiles might be the key. I’m guessing if you measured the ppm count of the new make, Port Charlotte would register higher. There’s only so much they can do with their claim of “terroir.” I think good marketing and distillation black magic are the keys to this one. Either way, there’s no getting around the incredible elegance of Octomore.