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Bruichladdich Octomore 07.1 Impressions

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What is it? 

Distillery: Bruichladdich, Islay, Scotland
Name: Octomore 07.1
Make: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Extra Info: The Octomore series is known within whisky circles as being some of the most heavily peated whisky available. The Octomore 07.1 is peated to 208 ppm (parts per million phenol count), in contrast, a typical heavily peated Islay malt has a phenol count of 35-55 ppm.

Why did I buy it?

I bought this because it is super peaty. Since I quite like peated whisky, I wanted to try the high end of the scale. That said, quoted ppm figures do not correspond to the final peatiness of the whisky. Peatiness is lost during the distillation process and also diminishes the longer the whisky is aged. This is one of the reasons the Octomore series are bottled quite young. The Octomore 07.1 is bottled after only five years maturation.

What did I think of it?

Presentation: Each expression in the Octomore series has a different bottle; the Octomore 07.1 is packaged in a striking matte black bottle with a silver neck and lettering. It looks great but you cannot see the colour of the whisky inside obviously. The markings are typical modern Bruichladdich san-serif typeface, which match the unique bottle quite well. The Octomore 07.1 is not traditional in any way, but it is a good example of attractive and restrained modern design.

Appearance: Dark straw in colour; unusually dark considering it has no artificial colouring added and it is also non-chill filtered. The legs (liquid that falls back down the glass after you swirl it around) run fast and thin, betraying the whiskies very young age before you even taste it.

Aroma: The smoke is evident as soon as you open the bottle and you half expect to see it wafting from the glass, such is its potency. On closer examination, it is hard to get through the smoke to the other aromas that lie beneath. Perhaps a mix of earthy aromas, like tar, rubber and leather. With water, I detected some walnut or almond and dry hay or straw.

Flavour: If you are not used to cask strength whisky, then the combination of 59.5% ABV and a young spirit will no doubt numb your taste buds. For those with a pre-seasoned tongue, you probably won't taste too much either except for smoke if sampled undiluted. With plenty of water there is some oak spice but the smoke just overpowers any other flavour before you can identify it.

Finish: Lots of smoke and a long slow burn down the back of your throat. Your significant other will be smelling this on your breath well into the following day.

Would I buy it again?

Probably not. The Bruichladdich Octomore 07.1 was great to try as a curiosity and as an example of how far peatiness can be taken, but it is also an example of how important it is to have a balance of flavours. The more whisky I try, the more my tastes evolve and lately I have been enjoying whiskies with a more restrained peat smoke. I like to be able to explore the complexity of flavours and aromas rather than have any one element that overpowers all others. If you like peat, try an Octomore for sure (if you can afford it) but I doubt it would become anyone's favourite whisky.

Disclaimer: I do not claim to have the nose and palate of a Master Sommelier, however, I am working to train my senses to better identify whisky aromas and flavours. Consider all my whisky 'Impressions' to be a work in progress and I hope to come back to each of them in the future to see if I notice anything different. Most importantly, I'm not just throwing around random aromas, flavours and adjectives for the hell of it; I am trying really hard to critically describe each whisky I taste - WhiskyDad.

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