Like software versioning, we are now on the 7th editions of Bruichladdich’s Octomore. Usually they have about 3 sub-editions with the 2nd sub-edition being a wine cask matured Octomore (easily spotted by the red font on the bottle). It seems they keep turning up the heat on these as the 7.1 is a hefty 208 ppm. Quite an incease from the 6.1 that had 167 ppm.
In case you are unfamiliar with phenol levels, it is a way of measuring how peaty whisky is. There is a huge caveat to this in that the measurement is usually made on the malted barley. Basically they take a sample of the malted barley and measure the concentration of phenols (one major component of peat flavour). However, peat levels diminish with every step of the whisky making process and it’s hard to say how much will be lost in each step. So how much of the initial peatiness makes it into the final whisky is a big question. Anyway, that’s just a tidbit of whisky science for you.
You may be wondering why a 5 year old whisky is selling for about £100. Well there are many factors to this. For starters, you typically get less spirit yield with peated barley. And the more peated the barley the less the yields, typically. This has to do with the growth of yeast during the brewing stage. Apparently it gets a little too peaty for those little guys. Another added cost is the use of Scottish barley. A lot of Scottish whiskies actually use barley sourced from all over. Scotland doesn’t have the best growing weather, so it costs more to use Scottish barley. And perhaps the final reason I suspect this dram is so expensive is that it’s bottled at cask strength. No dilution here. And with a young strong whisky like this, dilution goes a long way to saving some bucks. Well that’s my breakdown of the cost. Basically if you love peaty whiskies, you will most certainly have to try this.
On a somewhat related side note, the Octomore range is named after the farm nearby the distillery. They often source their barley from that farm for their local productions.
Distillery: Bruichladdich Distillery
Age: NAS but says 5 years on website
Cask: American Ex-Bourbon Casks
Phenol: 208 ppm