Archive for Octomore

Congratulations, Bruichladdich!

It’s with great appreciation and some sadness that I announce that I am shutting down this blog. I’m going to shut down as follows:

  • This announcement (2011-Jul-13)
  • Shutting down comments (2011-Aug-02)

This blog was “born” on 2-Aug in 2008 and I thought it should “die” on the same day. Most importantly, this was never meant to be about me…other than chronicling my appreciation of Bruichladdich and my enjoyment of its products. I also used the blog to share my learnings about how Scotch whisky is made.

Since we’re getting close to this blog’s birthday, and since Bruichladdich recently celebrated the new ownership’s first 10 years during Feis Ile 2011, and since they’ll soon have a shiny new website, I thought it was time that I should shut this down.

Of course, on the Internet, nothing ever dies, so I am going to leave the blog up but my final post will make it clear that the blog is closed. I hope that some of my writing has lasting value. This blog was never endorsed by Bruichladdich and the name was meant simply to convey my deep appreciation of their products and attitude.

This was my first real foray into blogging, I am now much more active on my Whisky2.0 blog and the related social activities on Twitter, Facebook and Google+, I think that this blog is no longer representative of my more expansive interest in whisk(e)y. I’m now privileged to participate in a much broader conversation about whisk(e)y.

I started writing here because I was getting into Scotch whisky and I became quite attracted to the products of Bruichladdich. I have to admit, I love their brash marketing (it’s close to my style of Marketing, and although it is my profession, I can’t claim to be as good at it as they are!).

So, congratulations to Bruichladdich Distillery Company on their first 10 years, and best wishes for many more decades of success. I recommend that you follow their blog and enjoy their whisky (including the Octomore and Port Charlotte product lines)! (Oh, and they make Islay Gin, too — from local botanicals!)

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Putting the “MORE” in Octomore

You have to appreciate the chutzpah (חוצפה) in creating the most heavily peated malt…ever. According to Bruichladdich, as released today, they have achieved (wait for it…) 309 ppm phenol level in the latest Octomore: Check it out. This is astounding…it’s over 3x the nearest ultra-peaty whisky (Ardbeg Supernova).

No earlier than July 2014, you’ll be able to buy this product (it has to be at least 3 years old to call it Single-Malt Scotch Whisky). Get in line. I’m already in that line with all the other peat freaks. 🙂 If it’s as good as they say, it will be an astounding whisky, even at a young age.

Stills, Waste and Other News

In late 2009, Bruichladdich released the fourth (and final) Port Charlotte whisky: It’s 8 years old and is bottled at 60.5% ABV (cask strength). The name of this expression is “Ar Dùthchas” and it honors the long history of human habitation on this island (it literally means “land of our heritage”). PC8 will be available in the US no earlier than mid-2010 (presuming that this year will be like past years…), with 2500 cases having been released for worldwide distribution. Readers in the UK can already buy it.

You’ll remember that Port Charlotte is heavily peated (40 ppm), a description that was apt when it was first distilled on 23-Oct-2001, though the “peat explosion” of the first decade of the 21st century has seen Bruichladdich produce 125+ ppm whisky (known as Octomore; there have been several releases at different stratospheric peating levels), while Ardbeg has released the 100 ppm Supernova.

In other news, Bruichladdich has installed an unusual Lomond still (the spelling might be “Lomand”…) for undeclared purposes (though their press release did mention that Jim McEwan has designed some enhancements for it). It should be obvious to the most casual observer that the Bruichladdich team has enthusiastically embraced whisky production in all its forms. We’ll have to wait and see what they produce in this new/old still.

Bruichladdich has also taken a further step toward sustainable operations by installing an anaerobic digester device that will convert spent barley into fuel to generate electricity, possibly heating water for mashing and/or directly fueling their stills.

Bruichladdich has made admirable strides in producing a 100%-Islay product, including providing a reason for Islay’s barley farmers to grow organic grain. Now they are trying to make their whisky “green” by reusing/consuming their waste products. If their experiment proves successful, their initial capital outlay will create benefits in reduced operational expenses downstream. The whisky business creates a lot of organic waste products and it would be excellent if they could be turned into a local source of energy instead of just…wasted.

A Wonderful Tribute

Peat is all the rage these days in Scotch whisky. It seems that whisky lovers can’t get enough of it. Bruichladdich has produced Octomore, first made from malt peated at 80.5 ppm phenol, now made from malt peated at 131 ppm. Ardbeg just released their Supernova, peated at about 100 ppm. Both of these are significantly higher than Port Charlotte, peated at about 40 ppm. Peat is also prominent in the Bruichladdich 3D, 3rd Edition (3D3 for short), which first shipped in 2006. It was produced in tribute to Norrie Cambell, the last traditional peat cutter on Islay. Bruichladdich has this to say about 3D3:

Bruichladdich 3D3

Bruichladdich 3D3

3D3 is the third version of 3D – the peated Multi-Vintage Bruichladdich. This single malt selected from several vintages is even more peaty than the previous two releases due to the debut of the mighty Octomore – the heaviest peated whisky in the world at a whopping 80.5 ppm. Combined with other versions of the Bruichladdich it makes for an awesomely complex and layered version of Bruichladdich: peat without the medicine. Listen to Jim McEwan’s Podcast here. For more information click here. For a tasting note please click here.

I got this bottle today as an early Valentine’s Day present. I’m a very lucky man! This is one smooth malt. The peat is very well balanced and the fruit is not overshadowed. Yes, it’s complex, but not shockingly so. There isn’t overwhelming sweetness (the color might make you assume there would be a lot of sherry sweetness, but there is nothing approaching treacle), and the mouth feel is slightly oily, which I suppose is what helps leave such a nice finish.

I paid just over $60, and I think that’s a good price for such a well-executed product. Yes, there are peatier whiskies on the market, but speaking for myself, I don’t buy exclusively based on phenol ppm. When I am in the mood for whisky, peat is not the only thing that determines which I will select. The 3D3 is a good example of a whisky that uses peat as an ingredient to complement the rest of the product, not to dominate it. (Now, I’m not saying that Octomore or Ardbeg’s Supernova are just peat with no other flavor. In fact, I’ve heard that they aren’t as peaty as the numbers make it sound. I would like to be able to sample them and I’ll see what I think at that point.)

The 3D3 is peaty, but it’s a gentle peatiness compared to, for example the Port Charlotte PC5, which is quite a stormy beast! Despite the fact that they both rate around 40 ppm phenols (the 3D3 was a combination of several different malts, vatted together so the ppm value is approximate), there is a vast difference in flavor. The more different whiskies I try, the more I realize that they can’t be reduced to numbers. There are bad whiskies, to be sure, but I luckily haven’t purchased any to date. Among those that I own, or have tasted, there are so many nuances that I can’t imagine how hard it is for professionals to rank them. For me, I can just say that this is an interesting Bruichladdich because it’s a blend of old and new, and the peat aspect is very well executed, to my non-professional palate.

To Norrie, I say: Slainte!

Port Charlotte News

PC7 has been bottled! I’m counting down to its arrival in my corner of California at Beltramo’s. BTW, the name of this expression is “sin an doigh Ileach which is Gaelic for: ‘it’s the Islay way.’ Sales of PC7 will probably be boosted by the fact that PC6 just won two awards in Jim Murray’s 2009 Whisky Bible. Presumably, PC6 sales will also be boosted by the awards. 😉

In other Bruichladdich news, Octomore and X4 are available if you act soon.

Octomore and PC7: Unity

The Whisky Exchange’s blog has an article on Bruichladdich’s latest releases: Octomore (in a new bottle shape!) and Port Charlotte PC7 (named: Unity; NOTE: I found out the week before Thanksgiving that the name is not going to be Unity). I don’t have much to add to the descriptions that they posted, except to note that the bottle design for the Octomore is really striking. The contents, at 131 ppm phenol, deserve an impressive bottle!

I am going to try to order Octomore, but I have doubts as to whether I can get it in California. If I can, I have doubts as to whether I can handle that much peat. WOW!

Writer’s Block

My mother always used to tell me that if you can’t say something nice about someone then don’t say anything. What I have is the opposite problem. Bruichladdich has been winning awards for its products, and those were initially based on careful blending of the malts that had been aging since the prior mothballing of the distillery. The initial products from the new make spirit have also been doing well, in terms of public enthusiasm and the awards that Bruichladdich has won within the whisky industry.

The public enthusiasm has been stoked by the limited nature of the expressions produced by Bruichladdich as well as some truly unusual expressions like for instance the quadruple-distilled X4 and the new Port Charlotte series. The enthusiasm peaked when the distillery announced that it was selling futures in the expression they named Octomore, after the eponymous farm near the distillery. The futures sold out, and the waiting began.

Last week Bruichladdich announced on their blog that the Octomore futures owners would be receiving either notifications about, or their actual bottles, in the near future. I found the announcement confusing since it sounded like the futures owners would be getting a product that was different than what will become commercially available in the near future as well. I’ll quote:

Octomore: the release notification for the  futures bottling of Octomore will be going out to Futures owners later  this week. The distillery bottling, assembled from multiple casks with various attributes that together, as one would expect/hope, bring an extra complexity to the bottling – will follow probably next month. Be prepared for a surprise.

What I can’t parse is whether the “futures bottling” and the “distillery bottling” are one and the same or not. The second sentence makes it sound like they are different — otherwise why make a comparison? Extra complexity compared to what? I suppose this only makes sense if they are referring to the same bottling in both sentences. Also, why mention “next month” and “a surprise”? Unless all the futures owners had already visited the distillery and tasted the product, it’s hard to know why they’d be surprised, unless it will be even peatier than expected.

As we recall, the Octomore is just over 80 ppm phenol, and should appeal to the “peat freaks” (not a disparaging term, I assure you) among us. The Octomore II (I’m not sure if futures in this expression have been sold yet…) clocks in at over 160 ppm phenol. When I hear numbers like that, I ponder: What would the phenol content be for tea made from powdered peat? I have to think that Octomore is higher. 🙂

As people start receiving their Octomore, I expect them to be posting on the Whisky Magazine forums, where I have been hanging out lately. I’ll report back here when I hear more.