Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Octomore 6.3 Islay Barley

Octomore 6.3 Islay Barley is Bruichladdich's ultimate punch in the whisky world's face. It's a peat bomb of soon-to-be-legendary proportions. When I read the teaser at Bruichladdich's website, I knew that it would be on my list of whiskies to buy in 2015. I mean, check this out...
This is a single malt whisky distilled from the most heavily peated barley in the world. Always experimental and pushing the boundaries of the possible, a stratospheric 258ppm was coaxed into the grain by our skilful maltsters at Bairds in Inverness, a remarkable 89ppm more than the previous high of 169ppm they achieved prior to the distillation of the legendary Octomore 5.1. 
The trickle distillation was slow, almost painfully so. The spirit then matured for five years in Bourbon, slumbering peacefully in our warehouses on the shore of Loch Indaal before being bottled at the Harvey Hall in Bruichladdich distillery. This is natural whisky, un-chill filtered and colouring free, a tiny amount of water from the spring at Octomore Farm being used to give an abv of 64%.
So, I started hitting up my local bottle shops here in Tokyo worried that we might be slow in getting it, but being slow in getting it turned out to be in my favor; if it had arrived any earlier when I wasn't on the lookout for it, I would've missed it. I hadn't realized it was set for release in December. By the time I picked up my bottle, it was early February. Last week, in fact.

I bought it the day after it arrived at the shop, and by the next day, they were all gone. Being the peatiest whisky ever, and figuring that it might remain that way for a long time, I had wanted to have a bottle for the collection as well, but I only bought the one that day due to my having a limited amount of cash in my pocket at the time and that particular shop only accepting that form of payment, so you can imagine my disappointment when I returned the next day for my second bottle and was met with an empty shelf.

I put the bottle I did buy up on the counter at the bar and figured it would go unopened for awhile; the asking price for a single glass was high and customers that are willing to pay such a price for a single glass of whisky don't come by my place so often. I was exercising restraint as well, not wanting to open it for a taste until I'd secured a second bottle for the collection. But, as luck would have it, one of my more-generous customers decided he wanted to try the beast from Bruichladdich and wanted me to taste it with him. So, I set up two glasses, and we gave Octomore 6.3 a go...

The Facts

  • 64% abv
  • Peated to 258 ppm
  • Age: 5 years
  • Cost of bottle: ¥25000 ($210 US)

Tasting Notes

Appearance:
Honey gold

Nose:
Almost violent
Mega melted butter baby vomit. peat, Peat, peaT, peAT, pEAT, and PEAT...
Bacon, salt, pepper, cinnamon, honey-glazed ham, some, hot-buttered popcorn, slightly grassy, pound cake

Palate:
Big heat
Buttery sweetness turning to cinnamon fire, minty, dry, peppery, oak

Finish:
Explosive, then long, steady burn, dry ashy mouthfeel
Like swallowing a tear-gas canister, the smoke permeates your entire upper body, and leaks out your eyes and ears. The mind disconnects from the body and you transcend the cosmos like Dave Bowman...

Conclusion: You won't be the same whisky drinker again after this one. The aftertaste stayed with me until the next morning and even my morning pee reeked of it.
This is one exhilarating dram that has the power to burn the spirit of Islay into the souls of everyone who's never been there leaving them in a zombie-like trance thinking only of a pilgrimage to that sacred place.

If you're interested in Bruichladdich Master Distiller Jim McEwan's tasting notes, here they are:

Nose 
It opens with the call of the sea, the thundering west coast waves driving a gentle mist onto the moorland and tempting the wild plants to release their unique aromas. Notes of myrtle, meadowsweet, mint and heather flowers drift across the nose. Wild thyme and red clover dance in perfect harmony with the strong uplifting peatiness of the Islay grown barley. It’s exhilarating, and seriously dramatic.
Palate 
When the heat of the peat fires cool there is a spontaneous detonation of soft red grapes, cherries, Russian toffee, bitter chocolate, maple syrup and mellow oak. It is a taste like no other, a whisky cut loose, unhindered, unchanged. This is sorcery.
Finish 
Long and strong, it warms the soul and lifts the heart. It evokes memories of those early years when the sweat of men instilled the spirit with a unique character. Join us as we look to the past, celebrating our Islay DNA while journeying into the future in a never-ending quest for the rainbow’s end.

Credits: Bruichladdich Octomore 6.3 Islay Barley home page

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