Bruichladdich Octomore 7.3 Islay Barley

Octomore-07.3

Recommended use: Serve with a splash of spring water 

Rating: stars 5

Recommendation: Buy it

Type: Single malt

Origin: Islay, Scotland

ABV: 63.0%

User rating for Octomore 7.3 Islay Barley (VOTE HERE): 

Bruichladdich Octomore 7.3 is a heavily peated single malt whisky that boasts a PPM of 169. Having been distilled from a wash that is made from barley grown on the Isle of Islay in Scotland, and then matured in American oak barrels by the sea on Islay, I am expecting a salty jab in the face and a knockout blow of peat from this whisky. What I found, as the below tasting notes show, was that this whisky is not dominated by salt and peat; rather, the salt and peat buoys flavours from the American oak and malt – it is complex, balanced, and yet seriously ferocious.  

Nose:

Peat smoke, coastal notes, rubber gloves dusted with talc, powered vanilla and chocolate, apple, peach, green pineapple, mars bar, fudge, caramels and denser milk chocolate emerge with walnuts, leather and freshly varnished pine with white chalk. 

Taste:  

Served neat at an alcohol by volume of 63.0%, the ethanol snaps at the palate like grandpa’s perfectly executed moonshine. Then the palate adjusts. It is astringent, and as the vapours evapourate off the palate like a hot steam, find sea salt, heavy peat, maritime notes, toffee apple, caramel, honey, fresh apricot, cigar tobacco and wood tannins. 

Finish:

Curiously, vanilla cupcakes emerge on the finish with heavier notes of salt than on the entry and a twist of minerality. There is plenty of peat smoke and underlying smoked notes, very Russian Caravan and lapsang souchong, with candied ginger and a lingering metallic taste and the faint glow of eucalyptus.  

Bottom line:

Buy it! Bruichladdich Octomore Edition 7.3 is a peaty sea monster, a Godzilla of a dram, bashing its way out of coastal waters to bombard the palate with all the unbridled anger you would expect of a youthful Islay malt – peat, sea spray, smoke – but with the calming sweetness of American oak.   

Hellyer’s Road The George Henry’s Legacy Limited Edition

the George

Recommended use: Serve neat

Rating: stars 4.5

Recommendation: Buy it

Type: Single malt

Origin: Tasmania, Australia

ABV: 59.4%

Memories conjured: Tasting red wine from the oak barrel, eating billy tea chocolate, smoking the last third of a cigar, standing in the citrus section of the fruit market, eating honey

Nose:

Fresh citrus peel, mainly orange and mandarin with bursts of pink grapefruit, combine with vanilla, rapadura sugar, dried figs, natural lemonade, fizzy sherbet, effervescent fruit salts, splints of wood and cinnamon.  

Taste:

A sweet entry of tropical fruit, papaya, apple, rock melon and honey is short-lived, as heavier citrus and then big wood notes take hold on the palate with lots of spice, pepper and cinnamon; a real treat for those who appreciate the layers in a woody cigar or mouth puckering Shiraz.

Finish:

A bitter floral and chicory finish with oak tannin, black tea, tobacco, tar and dark chocolate dominate over soft bursts of fresh almond, herbaceous notes, honey and melon.

Bottom line:

Buy it! Finally, rather than a replication of typical Scotch flavours, we have an Australian whisky in its own right; initial sweetness is swept away by oak and tannins, which evolve into a deep complex balanced finish. Overall, this is a distinctive Tasmanian whisky that brings to life that heaven sent ingredient that is integral to whisky: oak. Oftentimes whisky marketers equate woody whisky to chewing wood, but this is an oversimplification of wood notes in whisky. It misses one of the main delights of drinking whisky or any oak matured alcohol – exploring the layers and flavours that oak imparts into alcohol (whether it is wine, whisky, Cognac etc). Granted, like the beaver, I like the taste of wood. Apart from chewing pencils beyond recognition, I savour the pronounced wood flavours in some wine, cigars, chocolate and coffee. So, if the smell of these woody delights gets you salivating like Pavlov’s dogs (or me), then the complex Hellyer’s Road The George may be for you.