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The Islay-based distillery of Bruichladdich is known for its multiple innovative Scotch whisky product lines. Of these, the Octomore single malts mainly showcase some of the world’s most heavily peated whiskies. For 2023, the Octomore 14 lineup again brought forth some smoky monsters.
The Octomore series was first distilled in 2002, with the first bottles coming to market in 2008. Usually five years old, the series breaks down into three primary 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, focusing 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 that 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 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 14.3. Like the 14.1, it was distilled in 2017 from a 2016 harvest of Scottish-grown Concerto barley. However, things go in a different direction, with the barley for this release being 100% Islay grown at the eponymous Octomore farm, two miles south of the distillery.
Octomore 14.3, after being malted to 214.2 ppm (the highest ppm for this trio), is fully matured on Islay for five years in a combination of first fill ex American whiskey casks (50%) and second fill wine casks (50%). It is then bottled at 61.4% ABV, being non-chill filtered and of natural color.