Editor’s Note: This whisky was provided to us as a review sample by the party behind it. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the buy link in this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.
The Islay-based distillery of Bruichladdich is known for its multiple, innovative Scotch whisky product lines. Of these, the Octomore single malts in particular focus on showcasing some of the world’s most heavily peated whiskies, and for 2023 the Octomore 14 line up once again brought forth some very smoky monsters.
The Octomore series was first distilled back in 2002, with the first bottles coming to market in 2008. Usually five years old, the series breaks down along three main offerings:
- x.1 – distilled from 100% Scottish mainland barley and matured predominantly in American bourbon or whiskey casks
- x.2 – distilled from 100% Scottish mainland barley with a focus on European cask influences.
- x.3 – distilled from 100% Islay grown barley in a “single farm, single field, single vintage” model and matured in a combination of American and European oak.
At the heart of all these expressions is a desire by the Bruichladdich distillery team, led by Head Distiller Adam Hannett, to push the boundaries of peated whiskies in ways which explore raw ingredients, terroir influence and cask experimentation. As noted by Hannett at the time of this series’ 2023 release, “these fundamentals are inherent to each Octomore series, and the latest collection is no different. Each of the 14s has its own distinct character while staying true to the Octomore DNA, and this series showcases what can be achieved when we consider every element which contributes to the depth, balance and complexity of each drop of whisky.”
The one I’m reviewing here today is Octomore 14.1. Against the backdrop of the x.1s being the backbone of the series, the 14.1 was distilled in 2017 from a 2016 harvest of 100% Scottish grown Concerto barley that was malted to a very smoky 128.9 ppm. The whisky was matured entirely on Islay for five years in first fill, ex American whiskey casks, before being bottled at 59.6% ABV. It is both un-chill filtered and of natural color. Pricing starts at $219.99.
Tasting Notes: Bruichladdich Octomore 14.1
Vital Stats: distilled in 2017 from a 2016 harvest of 100% Scottish grown Concerto barley; malted to a very smoky 128.9 ppm; aged for five years in first fill, ex American whiskey casks; bottled at 59.6% ABV; price starts at $219.99.
Appearance: Very light and golden in appearance, almost like the sun. Some viscosity and legs in the glass.
Nose: Peat, no doubt peat. Not in campfire smoky, overpowering smell kind of way though. Beyond that there is some vanilla, raisin, honey and lighter floral notes here.
Palate: Bring on the peat. Again not in an overpowering way though. That being said, it is the major note and you could probably open this up with water a bit of you like. As it wanders my mouth apple, vanilla, a hint of oak, some minor spice, honey and maple kick around in a beautiful harmony. Finish is light and ethereal, fading into a pleasant, slightly smoky twilight that haunts me.