Bruichladdich Octomore 7.4

Distillery Small

The self proclaimed “progressive Hebridean distillers”, Bruichladdich, have released the newest addition to their super peaty Octomore range, and this time it’s a ‘.4’. Previously, we’ve seen .1 (ex-bourbon casks maturations), .2 (ex-wine cask maturation) and .3 (made from local barley) releases and so the first .4 release steps into the generally unchartered territory, in terms of Scotch whisky maturation anyway, of virgin oak maturation. Octomore 7.4 isn’t entirely matured in virgin oak, however, with only 25% of this whisky being solely matured in these casks, sourced from the Allier region of France, for 7 years. The other 75% initially spent 3 years in first fill ex-bourbon casks, before being dumped into the French virgin oak casks for 2 years before being shifted back again into first fill ex-bourbon casks for 2 years. Still with me? Good.

The first thing that struck me about this maturation regime was the 2 year stint in virgin oak casks in the middle of a 7 year maturation, and why the whisky wasn’t just finished in these casks after spending 5 years in the ex-bourbon casks. Seems a bit of a strange one to me, but I’m sure head distiller Adam Hannett, has his reasons. Either way, this whisky has something of the unstoppable force meeting the immovable object about it: 167ppm worth of peaty power coming up against a mighty virgin oak influence. Seconds out, round seven-point-four…

Bruichladdich 7.4 Virgin Oak 7yo
12,000 bottles
61.2% ABV
£150 here

Nose: The B&Q shed department! Creozote, wood chips, sawdust and charred logs. Then smoked bacon, clove, honey-glazed ham and black peppercorns. Finally, BBQ embers black tea, cigar and cocoa beans.

Palate: A huge spicy hit of smoke – dry peat, cinnamon, bark, pencil, cracked dry leather, smoked paprika, and a chilli tingle. Then dark treacle, burnt marshmallow, dark chocolate orange, sticky dates, and charred steak.

Finish: Long, with dry peat smoke, smoky bacon crisps and lingering wood spice.

Overall: A very impressive whisky. The heavily peated spirit is obvious from the moment the bottle is opened, but the virgin oak has sweetened this whisky right up and given it a rather delicious dimension. However, the price tag is a bit on the outrageous side for a 7yo whisky, and it’s a tipping point for me. Although it’s quite complex for its age, and undoubtedly a full flavoured whisky, for me it’s not worth parting with 150 quid for.



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