Where the whiskies from Bruichladdich excel in their sweet complexity and fruity body, her heavily peated sister Port Charlotte adds layers of peat smoke, liquorice root and a minty freshness, ‘simply’ by drying the barley above a peat fired heat source. Like most Islay whiskies, this heavily peated malt has a measurable phenol content of about 40 parts per million. Distilled in the same stills as her siblings, but from a very special, slow-dried recipe of malt reaching a whopping 167 ppm, the über-heavily peated Octomore is born. Born, and then matured for 10 years matured in a 60 – 40% combination of ex-Bourbon – Grenache Blanc casks, before being married and bottled into 18.000 bottles.
57.3% abv, €150
Nose: Obviously, there is an immediate peat reek to be found. A briny and earthy scent of autumn and mushrooms growing at the shores of Loch Indaal. Sweet notes of liquorice root, together with ripe cherry fruit and a hint of dry port wine slowly release a touch of fresh eucalyptus leafs.
Palate: Spicy hot peppers in a sweet, creamy mouth coating layer of salted butter accompanied by star anise and only a hint of cloves lead to roasted chicken (say what?). Sweet fruity notes of banana peels, red apples and drops of honey conclude my now confused palate – have you seen I completely ignored/missed the smoke here?
Finish: Not to worry, the smoke is here, long and ashy, as to be expected from an über-heavily peated Octomore. Yet, the the sweet and fruity notes of said banana peels and apples return here too with peach skin added into the mix. The spicy hints of cinnamon, cloves and star anise, slowly end in a minty eucalyptus aftermath. With a touch more of the smoke.
Conclusion: If there is one thing I can give you, it is the tip to add water. Purists might disagree, but in this case, an already awesome dram gets even more awesome. One would expect tar, ash and smoke the average highway would be jealous of, but it seems the five years added to the normal five year maturing period, has diminished the peat level greatly, yet the dram is still feisty enough not to be mistaken for anything else than a proper Octomore. I love it.