Bruichladdich Octomore 7.4, Virgin Oak
Bruichladdich have been a trend setting and iconic distillery since the grand relaunch back in 2001. Under the banner of Progressive Hebridean Distillers, they set about the industry with carefree abandon while the magical touch of master distiller Jim McEwan worked the black arts of still and cask. Things have become a bit quieter since being bought over by Rémy Cointreau, but the free-wheeling spirit of the distillers continues to ask questions of the industry as a whole with Adam Hannett, Jim’s prodigy, now in charge of the distillery.
He’s not long been flying solo at the helm, but this monster of a release just goes to show the talent that Jim has nurtured. It also handily demonstrates the continued commitment at the distillery to push at the boundaries of what can be done in the name of whisky!
Octomore 7.4, Virgin Oak, is what happens when the heaviest peated whisky in the world meets virgin French oak and first fill ex-bourbon casks that have been toasted and charred within an inch of their lives. This brooding monster was then left to lurk in the dark corners of the warehouse for 7 years, the longest maturation of an Octomore release yet. What emerged is a wondrous wee beastie.
The welcoming golden chestnut colour lends an alluring glow to the 167ppm of peat that were squeezed into the barley. They, in turn, slap you in the face with a paprika smoked BBQ while the heady oaky tones offer structure and sweetness to balance the intensity of all that peat. While the numbers say beast, the palate is enveloping, all encompassing. There is a restrained power, a subtle meaty weight that bleeds orangey spice and cinnamon across the tongue. The finish is forever, the brightness of the oily peat carrying on and on. Just a gorgeous dram!