octomore 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 bruichladdich

Octomore 10.1, 10.2, 10.3 & 10.4 (2019)

According to the press release the Octomore 10s are an exploration of the realms of ‘softer smoke’. In the case of Octomore, that sounds like a weird statement. While maybe a little less so than some predecessors, these Octomore are still extremely heavily peated compared to anything else that is currently available on the marketplace. Just look at the stats below.

But let’s not dwell on that, because the newest Octomore releases came with a special request from Bruichladdich.

“Dismissing the numbers, the makers ask even the most knowledgeable to forget everything they think they know and experience the liquid for themselves.”

I’m far from the most knowledgeable, so who am I not to try and honour that request. A small note accompanied the four samples I received from Bruichladdich, suggesting I taste the new Octomore 10s blind. So that’s what I did. And below you’ll find out what I think of each.


octomore 10.1 5yo bruichladdich 107ppmOctomore 10.1 (59.8%, OB, 42.000 bts)

  • 100% Scottish Concerto barley, harvested in 2012
  • 107 ppm
  • distilled in 2013
  • 100% matured in 1st fill ex-American oak (Jim Beam, Heaven Hill, Buffalo Trace, Jack Daniels)
  • 100% matured on Islay
  • 5 years old
  • non-chill filtered and uncolored 

Nose: Surprisingly light and subtle with notes of barley husks, wood smoke and a touch of sour beer, but also liquorice root. After a little while apple peel, vanilla custard and almond paste take over and don’t let go of the wheel.
Taste: Powerful stuff. The smoke certainly plays more a leading role here. Touches of sea shells, sweet barley, a whiff of lime, as well as cloves and chili pepper.
Finish: Big notes of peat, as well as rubber. Ending on a sweeter note. Demerara sugar. Long.

Score: 85


octomore 10.2 8yo 96.9 ppm bruichladdichOctomore 10.2 (56.9%, OB, 24.000 bts)

  • 100% Scottish Optic and Oxbridge barley, harvested in 2009
  • 96.9 ppm
  • distilled in 2010
  • matured for 4 years in ex-American whiskey casks, then for 4 more year into Sauternes wine casks
  • 100% matured on Islay
  • 8 years old
  • non-chill filtered and uncolored 

Nose: Stone fruits like peach and nectarine at the forefront, with a whiff of smoked bacon and charred oak in the background. A touch salty seaweed as well. It gives of a rich, buttery, oily vibe.
Taste: Thick and sticky mouthfeel, with notes of butterscotch and refined sugar. Nice interplay between the sweet notes and the barbecue smoke. Hints of leather and rubber, as well as iodine.
Finish: A tad dry. A whiff of chocolate and nougat. Lingering smoke and tar.

Score: 88


octomore 10.3 6yo 114 ppm bruichladdichOctomore 10.3 (61.3%, OB, 24.000 bts)

  • 100% Islay barley from Octomore Farm, type Concerto, harvested in 2012
  • 133 ppm
  • distilled in 2013
  • 100% matured in 1st fill ex-American oak (Jim Beam, Heaven Hill, Buffalo Trace, Jack Daniels)
  • 100% matured on Islay
  • 6 years old
  • non-chill filtered and uncolored 

Nose: Vanilla and marzipan with beach pebbles, crème brûlée and fudge. Somewhat herbal at times (rosemary), and the charred lemon peel is certainly a nice touch. Nice salinity too, but also notes of wood smoke and seaweed.
Taste: The salinity translates to the oily palate. There’s a good amount of peat, slightly medicinal even. A touch of rubber and bitter lemon peel, although there’s an inherent sweetness that balances things a bit. Golden syrup? Yes, golden syrup.
Finish: Lingering peat smoke. A bit one note. Long though.

Score: 87


octomore 10.4 3yo 88 ppm bruichladdichOctomore 10.4 (63.5%, OB, 12.000 bts)

  • 100% Scottish barley, type Concerto, harvested in 2015
  • 88 ppm
  • distilled in 2016
  • full term French virgin oak maturation
  • 100% matured on Islay
  • 3 years old
  • non-chill filtered and uncolored 

Nose: Whiffs of resin and rubber are the first aromas to stand out, followed by a deep and rich note of bonfire, unlike I’ve ever experienced in a whisky before. Wood varnish and tobacco leave their impression too, and this has a subtle farmy quality to it as well. Interesting, to say the least. Markedly different than the other three Octomore 10s, let alone other whiskies out there.
Taste: Spicy arrival with notes of pepper, cloves and nutmeg. Fairly dry as well. More peaty than smoky, the inverted experience of the nose, although that bonfire note does peak through on the palate every once in a while. A touch of shoe polish as well.
Finish: Long, dry and spicy, but also with tobacco and peat.

Score: 85


Conclusion

Softer smoke? When nosing, absolutely. The smoke often is a supporting player, leaving room for many other aromas. On the palate though, the smoke is much more prevalent. And on the whole, these Octomore 10s are obviously still amongst the most smoky whiskies in the world.

The Octomore 10.4 stands out, mostly because of the unusual profile. I’m not sure if I would call it a success, on the other hand, a score in the mid-80s after three years of ageing is pretty damn good. I doubt longer maturation in the same wood type would enhance this whisky though. Even at such a young age it probably is at its peak. The dry oak is very much already present.

Like with the previous batch, I liked the .2 the best. The strong and powerful spirit really does work well with (fortified) wine maturation. It helps mask the some of the raw and young influences, while introducing new flavours. I enjoyed it.

The 10.1 and the 10.3 are the most similar entrants. Both fully matured in ex-bourbon, the latter has a little more depth and complexity.

Interested in reading my reviews of the new Octomore 12.1, 12.2 and 12.3? Check ‘em out here

Samples provided by Bruichladdich

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