Bruichladdich: The Octomore 11

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Part Three: The Numbering System and History of the Octomore Releases


Brett - Scotch Trooper – Brett @Scotch_Trooper

Rich - @marvelatwhisky – Rich @MarvelAtWhisky

Adam’s log, Hebridean date 2020-11.1. “Our final destination is unknown, but we continue pushing the boundaries, to go where no one has gone before”.

When Adam Hannett suggested that Octomore was about “going where no one has gone before”, he may have unwittingly been paraphrasing Captain James T. Kirk of the Starship Enterprise. Yet one thing we can be sure of, is the impossibility of him knowing that this section of the Handbook would be jointly penned by a man dressed as a Stormtrooper. Sitting aboard the Death Star, with his trusted sidekick in tow, a rude, arrogant, comic-like character, wearing a bizarre red and black leather fetish suit, they began to unravel the history of numbers, systems and codes.

Much like Alan Turing before them, who spent months at Bletchley Park, cracking the Enigma code, our two protagonists set about the equally daunting task of deciphering the Octomore numbering system. Were they not such a pair of bumbling buffoons, their mission might have been accomplished before the Force had awoken. But alas, for these two, it would require the help of their Jedi Master Jaba the Hannett (and a downloadable powerpoint presentation) to aid them.

The mood was much like the Feis Ile 2016 OBA Edition – “Mind F**k” – but that wasn’t going to stop them. So, it began, with the hapless duo thumbing through the annals of Octomore history, learning of the late-night “what if?” idea after a few drams, which resulted in the release in 2008 of Octomore 01.1, aged 5 years, peated to 131 PPM and bottled at 63.5%. Matured in first fill bourbon casks, this was the profile which would define the .1 expressions and become the reference point for all other releases.

As such, when in 2009 the Octomore 2.2 Orpheus was released, like its .1 brethren, it had been laid to mature in bourbon casks, but subsequently underwent a further maturation period in Reserve Cuvee French oak casks from Bordeaux. This deep exploration into the influence of wood on the spirit, defined the .2 expressions, which henceforth would undergo additional maturation periods in different cask varieties.

In 2015, the 6.3 heralded the release for the very first time, of an Octomore distilled from 100% Islay barley. Having been harvested in 2008 by farmer James Brown on his Octomore farm, this 258 PPM behemoth, would characterize the .3 expressions, always produced from 100% Islay barley, a celebration of Islay DNA and provenance, a single farm vintage.

If that was not enough to stop our salivating heroes from entering a peat induced, mind-altering coma, the 7.4 release plotted a course towards a virgin galaxy. In 2016, Octomore 7.4 gave us an introduction to the use of virgin oak for maturation and thus a .4 expression which would focus on the effect of oak on this heavily peated spirit. Be it American, French or Japanese, be it hogshead or butt, or light or heavy charring, the possibilities would be limitless, but the cask would always be virgin oak.

So, there you have it. Without a single Ewok sold into slavery, destined to forever be a household pet, our antiheroes were able to unravel the mystery of the numbering system, guarded by a chosen few and handed down over millennia.

A .1 series which forms the foundations of all expressions, having been matured in first-fill bourbon casks. A .2 expression which explores the effects of different cask varieties on the spirit. The Octomore .3’s which celebrate the provenance, being distilled from 100% Islay barley at James Brown’s Octomore farm. And last but by no means least, the .4 expression which is either full term or blended with virgin oak casks. Admittedly, this paragraph would have been far more concise and all that was needed to cover this section, but hey, that wouldn’t have been as much fun.

Every now and then, however, the guardians of the Octomore galaxy treat us to something special. Never rushed, the Octomore 10 year editions allow the effects of age to shine through the spirit. Much like Patrick Stewart, an Octomore 10 certainly ages gracefully. With that age and peaceful maturation period, comes wisdom, sophistication and a unique experience. They don’t come to life often, but when they do, its as if the whole universe, if only for a moment, were in perfect balance.

Having over 70,000 casks of more than 200 different types, where Octomore goes next, only one thing is for sure – in the immortal words of Doc Brown, “they don’t need roads”. Set a course Ensign. Maximum drive!


The Full Series (links added as new parts are published)

The Octomore 11

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