Peat. Peat peat peat. I love it. There are bottles of Talisker and Ardbeg on my shelf that will attest to that. Peat is measured in phenol parts per million, where phenols are the organic compounds that the malted barley takes on from the burning peat. Some whiskies have very little peat, such as Glenmorangie’s 1.5ppm. The “peatiest” whiskies, such as Ardbeg, Laphroaig, and Lagavulin, come in at 56, 35, and 30ppm, respectively. I have Ardbeg somewhat regularly, and can attest to the dense oily peatiness in every dram. So I had no idea what to expect from Bruichladdich’s Octomore, with phenol levels of 131ppm.
Upon first taste, it was, well, balanced. Surprisingly balanced. Little of that really dirty, oily peatiness I’m accustomed to. There’s grassy sweetness in the nose, with a savoury raw cinnamon taste. The dominating flavour though is salt and chili with lemon juice/oil. This dram would be perfectly paired with Mexican food. This may be the first time I’ve drawn that connection, but try the Octomore and you’ll see exactly what I mean. Lastly, the dram finishes with a gentle peppery fade out. All in all a very nice dram, though I’m not sure it’s worth the money. And even if you wanted some, it’s predominately sold out. You’re not totally out of luck though, as Bruichladdich has released a second edition of the Octomore with even higher phenol levels. While the price is steep, this is definitely a dram worth trying.