It’s Octomore, Jim, but not as we know it

Octomore Header

I might just be getting old and becoming more sensitive to the cold, but the weather has taken a definite turn for the worse in Edinburgh. Early mornings now come with a dusting of light frost, my ‘big coat’ has been looked out to combat the chilly, biting, wind, and car headlights and lampposts now light my way home after work. Ugh. However, it does mean that Movember is right around the corner, but that’s for another article.

On these rather wintery evenings, nothing hits my spot more sweetly (if you will), than robust, peated, whisky. And none come more robust and peated than Bruichladdich’s Octomore range. That said, the latest, and tenth, series, isn’t the same smack-you-on-the-face peat-fest we’ve gotten accustomed to with Octomore over the years. To give you some context, previous releases have largely been created from barley peated to 130-ish ppm and above, whereas this series consists of whisky created using barley peated to between 88ppm and 114ppm. Why? To explore the softer side of smoke.

As before, the .1 is matured solely in American oak, the .2 is matured 50/50 in American oak and Sauternes casks and is exclusive to Global Travel Retail, .3 is created using Islay barley, and .4 is matured in virgin oak – this time it’s virgin French Limousin oak. The first three expressions are available now, with 10.4 being released in January 2020. Time to get my peat on.

Octomore 10.1
5 years old
American Oak
107 ppm
59.8% ABV
£126.95 here

Nose: A real sweetness, with melted marshmallows, vanilla Angel Delight, apple chews, and toasted cereals. Then some kindling, peat hearth, and drying woodsmoke.

Palate: Peppery woodsmoke up front, then a sweetness kicks in, with lemon zest, barley water, and sweet breakfast cereals. There’s a coastal thing too with some brine and sea spray, then a light smoke which gently fades.

Finish: Gentle smoke, with toasted coconut and twigs.

Octomore 10.2
8 years old
4 Years in American Oak, then 4 Years in Sauternes Wine Casks
GTR Exclusive
96.9 ppm
56.9% ABV
£150 RRP

Nose: A little softer and juicer than the .1, with smoked almonds, mango, lychee and Fruit Salad Chewits. Some ripe pear too. There’s some smouldering peat and linseed underneath.

Palate: Fruit to begin with – mango, papaya, charred pineapple, and smoked lemons. Then vanilla candles, fatty BBQ embers, and charred oak. The smoke builds.

Finish: Singed orange peel, smoky fruit salad, and smouldering logs.

Octomore 10.3
6 years old
American Oak
Islay Barley
114 ppm
61.3% ABV
£174.95 here

Nose: Quite medicinal, with camphor, First Aid box, and germoline. It’s a little farmyard too, and rather coastal – wet sand and pebbles. Then coconut, freshly sawn oak, and really gentle smoke.

Palate: The coastal thing hits first, with brine and rockpools. Then dry straw, a raw barley sweetness, lime pith, nutmeg, and a root ginger zesty spice. Some driftwood and dry bonfire smoke lurk underneath.

Finish: Spicy and sweet, with honey and butterscotch, and a lingering smokiness.

Octomore 10.4
3 years old
Virgin Limousin Oak
88 ppm
63.5% ABV
£155 RRP available January 2020

Nose: A totally different beast, and everything surges out the glass at once – rye bread, bourbon biscuits, chewy oak, new leather, tobacco leaf, charred steak, some game-y notes, BBQ’d meats, and savoury smoke.

Palate: Roasted nuts, loads of clove studded gammon, smoked bacon, soy sauce, salt and vinegar crisps, more leather, lapsang souchong, and an earthy smoke.

Finish: Rather tannic, with drying baking spices, dark chocolate, and some cigar smoke.

Overall: D’ya know, I always turn to Octomore when I want to be figuratively… or literally… punched in the face with sweet, spicy, coastal smoke. I love the effect of coupling the intense, robust spirit with American oak casks to allow the distillate to shine, which means the .1s and .3s are usually my favourites of each range. Those expressions are still possibly my favourites in this tenth series, and the reduced ppm here allows a lot more than those dominant smoky notes to show themselves. The subtleties between .1 and .3 are evident, with the .1 being slightly sweeter and cleaner, and .3 being more medicinal and farmyard-y (a note which, I should point out, I find rather desirable). The .2 provides a more fruity edge, with the .4 being in an entirely different ball park. That virgin Limousin oak morphs the whisky into a more tannic, barbeque-y, and savoury, liquid. The quality of all four whiskies, particularly given their youth (I’m looking at you .4), is fantastic, and despite a lower ppm they are still a peat freak’s wet dream. Thoroughly visceral stuff.

It’s Octomore, Jim, but not as we’ve known it.





  1. Great article and nice reading! Sounds like pheno(l)menal whisky… #onmywishlist :)

  2. Hi Fredde, thanks for your comment and kind words. Let me know what you make of these expressions if you manage to get your hands on them!

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