Bruichladdich Octomore 10 year (4th edition)

The idea behind the 10 year-old editions of Octomore is for Bruichladdich to examine the effects of longer aging on the somewhat-well-understood young (typically 5 year-old) Octomore. As Head Distiller Adam Hannett said in our interview session for the Octomore 11 campaign, “we just don’t know everything,” and “there are so many infinite variables in the creation of single malt whisky, so we try to isolate one variable at a time to see how it improves the whisky, or doesn’t.”

Bruichladdich Octomore 11.3

The Octomore .3 releases are always made from 100% Islay-grown barley from Octomore farm by “The Godfather of Soil” James Brown. This year’s 11.3 release is 5 years old and was aged in ex-bourbon American oak casks from a variety of bourbon distilleries … Jim McEwan talks about the soil of Islay and why he goes to such cost-inefficient lengths to get 100% Islay barley. He talks about how mainland Scottish farms can pull 3 or 3.5 tons of barley per acre in yield while Islay’s difficult climate maxes out around 2 tons. Moreover…

Bruichladdich Octomore 11.1

Octomore, for those who haven’t had the pleasure of shelling out $150+ for a bottle of one of the past ten editions, is the most heavily-peated whisky in the world. It’s bottled at cask strength and comes out every year in either 3 or 4 varieties. In brief, 11.1 is 5 years old and was aged only in ex-bourbon American oak. … this year was distilled in 2014 from the 2013 harvest of Scottish-grown (not on Islay) Concerto and Propino barley. The barley was malted by Bairds in Inverness to 139.6 ppm and the final 30,000 bottles were bottled at 59.4% ABV. The release was aged for…

Laphroaig An Cuan Mòr

I’m impressed that in a side-by-side comparison, it’s clear that this is Laphroaig “plus”. You get extra cinnamon, extra vanilla, and extra oaky sweetness from the European oak that’s just simply missing from the standard expression. It does not taste older, nor mellower. If you feel like your standard Laphroaig could use a little more flavor that isn’t peat, you’ll probably enjoy…

Caol Ila (18 year)

Most of Caol Ila’s output is peated and most of it (95%!) ends up in various blends, as it’s the go-to standard for adding smoke to blended malts these days because of its inherent softness and willingness to play with others. This being a Diageo malt, there is essentially no information online. It’s clearly been aged in ex-bourbon casks for its 18 years of maturation, but…

Big Peat

The liquid itself is 100% Islay single malt from the distilleries of Caol Ila, Bowmore, Ardbeg, and Port Ellen and is bottled without added color or chill-filtration at 46% ABV. The whisky is so pale as to be almost clear and bears a striking resemblance to Lagavulin 8 year, although the same could be said of most younger peated malts. That Port Ellen component is interesting, as Port Ellen is basically gone from retail markets.

Lagavulin (8 year)

We have here an 8 year-old Lagavulin bottled at 48% ABV, and so pale that it’s almost clear. This was originally released as the distillery’s 200th (bicentenary) anniversary limited edition, but has since been added to the core range. With that, the information available online dries up. To my palate, this seems to be missing the sherry portion found in the 16-year. Like the 12-year, I would guess this is entirely from ex-bourbon casks.