About This Dram
We’re starting off Season 3 of The Dram Association with probably the most unexpected whisky to have ever landed on our shelves here at the Strath. Not only is this pretty much sold out around the world, it’s also only meant to be sold in Airports!
How did we get it? Did we paint a helipad on the roof and pretend to be an airport? No, although if I thought that would work, we possibly would have. Truth be told, we took advantage of a mistake by our beloved LDB (the Government-run Liquor Distribution Branch) and well, somehow got away with it. Not only that, but I’ve had it 100% confirmed that we bought every last bottle that came to BC! Sorry, Vancouver Airport!
Because we’re getting it at the wholesale cost that was intended for the duty-free stores, it is actually less expensive here than it is in the last few available spots in Britain! On top of that, to celebrate our birthday, we’re giving you a whopping $50 off!
So what actually is this strange arrival? Well, if you haven’t come across Octomore, then prepare to be swept away in a tidal wave of flavour. This experimental series of releases is brought to life by the mad scientists at Bruichladdich on Islay. They peat the barley for this one at monstrously high levels. This one, in particular, is 167ppm. For reference, Lagavulin is only about 35ppm, and Laphroaig is around 45ppm.
The peat isn’t just a party trick, however. These special releases attempt to balance and integrate that heavily peated barley into a beautifully unique and cohesive whisky experience. Not only is the barley heavily peated, but it is also locally sourced – coming entirely from Octomore Farm on Islay. The same can be said for the peat, giving us a whisky with exceptional provenance and maybe even terroir.
How do they temper this devilishly smokey ingredient? How is does it not just taste like ash? The secret is in both the distillation and maturation of the spirit. It is distilled in exceptionally tall stills, which help to keep the heavier flavours of the peat somewhat at bay. The spirit retains a lot of the flavour of the heavily peated barley, but not so much of the smoke and ash as you might expect from 167ppm.
This spirit then has one of the most unique and interesting blend of casks that I’ve ever seen. I almost feel like Head Distiller Adam Hannett and team may have been hanging out with John Glazer of Compass Box and are now engaged in a battle of oneupmanship! Our whisky starts out as three different spirits. One matured in French Mourvedre wine casks, one matured in Austrian Sweet wine casks, and one matured in Sauternes casks. All of these different European Oak wine casks were then taken out of their casks after six years, and vatted together in Amarone casks for another two. I told you they were mad scientists!
What a wonderful way to kick off both our third year and our special two-month celebration of the art of blending. As Bruichladdich themselves describe it (and we then ‘borrowed” as this whiskies nickname) this truly is an Iron Fist in a Velvet Glove.
There were so many different flavours and aromas happening in this whisky that it’s almost impossible to sew them all together in a narrative. It’s literally so complex that you could taste it a hundred times and swear you were drinking a different whisky each time. The smoke was used as the mortar to hold up the wall of flavour that is Octomore 8.2. It was the entire reason that this mad patchwork of flavours worked so well. The peat isn’t just perfectly integrated, it is entirely necessary – not something I was expecting at all.
In no particular order, her is a list of aromas and flavours that our three-person panel discovered: fresh berries, pickles, aquavit, olive oil, leather, damp forest, peppered beef jerky, mandarins, chinotto, cinnamon hearts, cloves, 1980’s era nightclub smoke machine, iodine, charred lemon peel, caramel, apples, charcoal, pear, dried apricots, grape skins, ash, lapsang souchong, Citra hops, licorice, cherries, Cuban cigar smoke, honey, guava, pine nuts, bacon and blackcurrant.