Guest blog by Paul Nyberg (twitter: @derekcuster). Thanks Paul!!
I must begin with a disclaimer. While I have had one or three Bruichladdichs since really getting into my whisky rather than just drinking it, I would never have come across the Octomore range if I hadn't heard about the extreme peat on This is my Dram. When Stu and Andy went through the 8.1 and 8.2 on Series 3 Episode 4, I almost had to pull the car over (I'm a podcast-while-commuting guy) to mop up the saliva!
My old man got me into enjoying whisky with Talisker, Laphroaig and Ardbeg so peat was almost my introduction to scotch whisky. When I heard that Bruichladdich were taking peat levels far above anything I'd ever tasted and then doubled down on it I knew this was one I needed to try. I decided to stretch my usual budget beyond breaking point and treat myself.
Anyway, after that preamble, I shot for the sky and grabbed myself a bottle of the 9.1. It turned up and the beauty of the box and bottle blew me away. The black design is gorgeous. It looks a million dollars, even the lid on the box is a thing of beauty. It has a monster PPM of 156, it is cask strength at 59.1%, and is matured in bourbon casks (mainly Jim Beam and Jack Daniels) for 5 years.
Then you open the thing.
While I let the whisky open up I checked that the battery in the smoke alarm hadn't packed in, and when I was convinced it was just my drink I settled down to deep dive into this stuff.
Nose: Smoke, obviously. Not medicinal like a lower end Islay can be, but a combination of a regular peaty whisky with someone puffing on a cigar with a nice hardwood fire on.
Palete: Smoke smoke smoke. Then some oak, perhaps a hint of citrus and vanilla in there too.
Finish: It isn't still going on the following day, but it's lingering. More like having a mouthful of cigar smoke than whisky.
All in all I adored it. Despite being 59.1% it doesn't ever seem that strong. There is no aggression with this one, it's subtle while still packing a huge Iron Mike punch! Behind the smoke there are a plethora of flavours just waiting to be discovered. Each sip brings more out of it. An absolutely incredible whisky.
Given that This Is My Dram is all about pairing Whisky and Music... As a song choice to go with the Octomore; Bury Me in Smoke by Down yelled at me for the obvious connection, but this is a song I have loved for a long time. I saw Down play Newcastle back in 2006 when they didn't have a record label or anything behind them, and they put on one of the greatest shows in Newcastle uni basement I've ever been to. A week later I saw them turn up at Download Festival as unannounced guests and played this song for 50,000+ super happy drunken fools at 1 in the afternoon. For me it's a timeless song, and that main riff... if it doesn't make you want to thrash on air guitar then you just ain't right!