Review: Bruichladdich Octomore 8.1, 8.2, and 8.3
Don’t get confused — Octomore 10 may have arrived in early 2017, but this series in the Octomore line, called Octomore 8 (technically “Masterclass_08”) is actually the most recent set of whiskies in Bruichladdich’s continuing exploration into just how much peat a distiller can jam into a spirit.
There are four releases in the Octomore 8 line, and today we look at the first three. 8.1 and 8.2 are close siblings, both eight years old and distilled in 2008, while 8.3 is quite a different spirit altogether, part of Bruichladdich’s investigation into Islay-grown barley, distilled in 2011, and peated far beyond anything else it’s ever released to date.
Let’s dig in!
Bruichladdich Octomore 8.1 – 100% aged for 8 years in American (ex-bourbon) casks. Intense smoke immediately hits the nose, fresh and peaty. There’s a hint of flamed orange peel in the mix, and, given time exposed to air, some nutty notes and chocolate aromas. The palate is fiery, pungent with peat smoke and wood embers, but water tames the beast appropriately, coaxing out a vanilla and caramel character that is otherwise elusive. The finish sees a squeeze of lemon atop that core of intense and lingering peat smoke. 118.6 proof. 167ppm. B+ / $140
Bruichladdich Octomore 8.2 – Aged 8 years in three different types of European oak wine barrels: French mourvedre, Austrian sweet wines, and French Sauternes. It’s a much darker whisky in color, and darker in spirit, too. While 8.1 is relatively light on its feet, 8.2 is well weighted with aromatic notes of camphor, sea spray, and dried fruit. On the palate, again water is a necessity, as it helps to showcase ample citrus notes, sweet custard, and fruits in syrup. The finish is much less smoky, with a clear citrus thread running through it. Intense, but really quite lovely. 116.8 proof. 167 ppm. A- / $200
Bruichladdich Octomore 8.3 – Made completely from local barley, aged 5 years, 56% in bourbon casks, 44% in a mix of European oak wine casks of various ilk. Peated to a reportedly unprecedented level, you wouldn’t know it from the nose, which offers a soft, cottony smoke profile and hints of candied nuts, vanilla, and a little bitter cocoa powder. The body — at full proof and full phenol — is hard to get your head around, but water again tames the beast and pushes a delightful agenda of spiced nuts, wine-soaked berries, baked apples, and a long, lingering savory spice character. Surprisingly, 8.3 finds more of a sense of balance than either of its forebears, though the powerful peat element can of course at some times be a challenge. 122.4 proof. 309 ppm. A- / $220