Bruichladdich Octomore Masterclass_08.1

Bruichladdich Octomore Masterclass_08.1 Price Approximately 650 Shekels

I have already reviewed the 06.1 which I did not much enjoy. Then, last year I did a review comparison between the 06.1 and 7.1 and came out praising the 07.1 as one of my top 10 whiskies of all time.
Now, for my third Octomore review, it’s time to compare the 07.1 with the 08.1.
No Kashrut Issues
Like all “Point Ones” up until now, Baruch Hashem, this Octomore continues the tradition and has been matured exclusively is Ex-Bourbon Barrels, which makes its Kashrus status crystal clear.
General comments about all the Octomore series:
First comment to make is that you will need a very tall shelf to store this canister, as it’s one of the longest canisters on the market. Bad if you have standard fixed shelving but good for Bruichladdich as the product really stands out in the store! Secondly, the black 100% opaque bottle might look incredibly dashing but you cannot see what the whisky level is, which is somewhat irritating.
Apart from these little grumbles, the packaging is pretty much perfect, especially all the product details printed on the canister and label. In fact, it would be quicker to tell you what it doesn’t inform you. This whisky has plenty to brag about, like a young whisky with an actual Age statement, (no there’s a novel thing!), the cask strength ABV alcohol level, PPM peat level, the fact that it is Non Chill Filtered and Natural Colour.

What would be even better is if it would state that it has been matured in Ex-Bourbon barrels and perhaps if they have come from a specific Bourbon distillery in America, to mention that. Also to name the barley type would be nice. Bruichladdich do this sometimes but not here for some reason.

Now, specific comments about the 08.1
It is very interesting that after going on and on for years about “We believe in provenance, traceability, artisan, Islay people…. and above all,” Terroir”, all this old Bruichladdich marketing line has completely disappeared from the 08.1. (Do they no longer believe in terroir?) Instead they have added before the 08.1, the phrase “MasterClass”. So this Octomore is an example of a Bruichladdich Master Class in distillation and maturation? This is a gutsy boast indeed.
The old Octomores were all Black with grey text. The 08.1 is very dark grey (not black) colour canister and bottle with a combination of grey-silver and embossed gold text and artwork. In addition, we have a large monogram “OCM” for “Octomore Masterclass” painted in bright gold. In place of the familiar silver foil cap covering the cork, we have a gold foil cap. The gold foil also covers the neck of the bottle where, underneath Adam Hannett’s (the new Head Distiller), there is his signature as well as a statement that this is a series of 42,000 bottles!

The artwork and overall look is simply stunning! If the Octomores stood out from the whisky crowd before, this 08.1 stands out from the Octomore crowd. Those gorgeous gold touches upon a dark grey background exude the message of a polished chic product, reminding me of an expensive mens watch in gold and black worn by a guy in a white tuxedo.

Tasting Session
The bottle describes these whiskies as “Super Heavily Peated” and that they are. You can smell the peat from the other end of the room. A word of advice if you are planning on drinking any of these Octomores in a tasting session, with friends or at a whisky meeting, Octomore should be the last whisky of the evening because after this, everything will taste bland. (As I joked in my previous review, this is the “Korban Pesach” of whiskies as you still have the taste of the Octomore in your mouth until the morning!)

Gefilte Fish Sausage
We had our daughter’s family over for Shabbos and I decided to make those Gefilte Fish sausages for hors d'oeuvres, (or as my Dad always says, for “Horses’ Doobries”). I don’t particularly like the jar Gefilte fish but these sausages are actually very tasty. I have to admit though, that that these bland coloured fat fish rolls don’t look very appetising sitting there on a plate, all on their own. Consequently, I simmer these Gefilte Fish “sausages” with onions, carrot cubes, onion powder, salt and pepper and after an hour, turn off the light and leave to cool overnight. In the morning, I remove them from the fish stock, place them in a serving bowl and cover them with the carrot cubes and onions. Served with red (no added sugar) Chrein and my dear wife’s perfect homemade challah, they are pretty delicious and compliment peaty whiskies really well.

They come in various flavours; Yerushalmi, Polish and Hungarian. I buy the Hungarian ones as they contain the least sugar and are only 108 calories per 100g! (The Yerushalmi ones are double the calories and far too sweet for my taste buds).
[I’ll try and update this blog post and add a photo soon]
During the first course I placed two glasses in front of everyone and poured them the 07.1 on the left and the 08.1 on the right. I added a teaspoon of water and we left both whiskies to settle down whilst my son-in-law gave a Dvar Torah on the parsha.
I would have loved to have used my two Bruichladdich tasting glasses, (a present from the distillery), for this review. (You see them in the review of the 07.1). Alas, both of them got smashed. These glasses were pretty much perfect to show off the Octomore’s lusciously silky thick golden liquid. The glasses were however, very thin and fragile. I suppose it’s a message that a return to Bruichladdich to get some more, is in order.

As well as this whisky possessing a magnificent natural golden barley colour, I think the Octmores have the most impressive alcohol legs/tears of any whisky. A gentle swirl of the glass and then looking at the whisky through the light, shows golden streaks of whisky alcohol clinging to the inside of the glass with no sign of imminent falling. It simply coats the glass. (This is exactly what you get when you take your first sip of this. The Octomore coats your whole mouth with this oily layer of creamy barley peaty syrup).
Initial smelling of the 07.1.
Peated at a whopping 208 PPM. Bottled at 59.5 ABV. Aged 5 Years in Ex-Bourbon American Oak casks.

This was the last Octomore bottled under the auspices of the previous Head Distiller, the legendary Jim McEwan.
On paper, this whisky ought to be a real “In Der Face” bruiser. Actually, it is a most refined and elegant peat monster. On the nose, lovely coastal bonfire with Salty Caramel and Lemon ice cream. (For a full description, see my review of the 07.1)
Wave after wave of coastal bonfires, sulphury ash with Salty caramel flavours, Smoked Soya Sauce juicy chicken breast, creamy vanilla toffee, English tea bags, white grape juice, apple wine and sea weed. Such is the nature of these single malts, even after eating the Gefilte Fish, Chrein and Challah, we could still taste this Octomore in our mouths quite clearly. Just as the Islay peat has impregnated the Scottish Barley, so will this whisky impregnate your tongue.
Despite this 07.1 having some rather unusual flavours, everything combines perfectly together to make a delicious, hugely engaging, immensely complex and well balanced Islay peat experience.
The Finish
Err….actually it doesn’t finish!
A dram of this at night and you will still be tasting the sea salty caramel when you wake up in the morning. This Octomore 07.1 is a full workout for the senses. Smell, Taste and mouth feel. I have to say, it does compliment not only fish but chicken as well.
This Octomore 07.1 has earnt a place on my top 10 favourite whiskies of all time. It is a masterpiece in barley selection, distillation and maturation. The question is, will the 08.1 be another masterpiece or as they say, a “Master Class” of a whisky?
Now to the 2018 Octomore. The 08.1.
Barley peat levels are set at 167 PPM, bottled at 59.3 ABV and has spent 8 Years maturing in Ex-Bourbon casks.
This is the first Octomore to bear the signature of Adam Hannett, the new Head Distiller.
On the Nose
First impressions were that this is a very sprit driven whisky despite its 8 years.

Even some four months after opening this bottle, the 08.1 has a very pungent spirit dominant smell. The unusual smell of dried out flowers in a vase. Smelly earthy countryside gaseous odours of farmer’s muddy field after a rainfall. Slight whiff of Domestic gas. (The universal standard added to odourless domestic gas giving it a sulphury smelling additive called “mercaptan”).
Despite this 08.1 having some three more years of maturation than the 07.1, the heavy pungent peat influence of the spirit is still very upfront with the 08.1. After 8 years in the cask, you would have thought that the peatiness would have decreased over time and taken on more wood flavours, yet the 07.1 seems to have much more cask maturation in comparison.
So, after some discussion, this is what we came up with on the nose, which I must admit, does not sound very flattering. Electric cable fire smell, Car oil smells coming from a hot engine, sour waxy honey, Sea water and engine oil splashing against your face. Underneath all this pungency is sour Bitter Lemon. Roasted melon, one said Paper Glue and another said Marker Pens.
Mouth fill is the same familiar lovely oil sweet barley sugar coating all around the tongue and gums. But after that, things take a different course. Stewed Goulash Meat and boiled Barley broth. Sharp, slightly sour tropical fruits Sauvignon Blanc wine. Yellow/Green Banana. Onion Powder. (Actually, onion powder is quite sweet but also pungent). Yellow fruits, apples, tin peaches, tin pineapple. Burnt “real” honeycomb (the hexagonal waxy cells, not the seaside toffee crunch confectionary of the same name). Alpro® Vanilla Pudding in a burnt saucepan.

The only thing to overpower this 08.1 is another glorious sip of the 07.1.
The 08.1 may be 41 PPM less than the 07.1 but the burnt peaty pungent flavours on the finish are much more dominant.

Don’t get me wrong, the 08.1 isn’t a bad whisky experience for those who enjoy their peat monsters and are willing to pay a very high price for it. However, it isn’t a great whisky and certainly does not meet the lofty heights and refinement, character and complexity of flavours of the simply excellent 07.1!
The 07.1, Jim’s swan song to Bruichladdich is simply too good, and nothing can touch it. After comparing the 07.1 with this newer Octomore, my admiration and approbation of this this stellar single malt only increases. I would have liked to have tried the Octomore 10-Year-Old but at the exorbitant asking price, I won’t be buying it simply to try it out.
As mentioned earlier, the 08.1 seems to break the peat/year ratio rule. Take Caol ila and Kilchoman as two examples of this rule. As the maturation years go by in the cask, so the peat punch should go down and cask influence will become more dominant. This is transparent to anyone who has compared the Kilchoman 100 Islay 5th Edition (5-Years) to the 7th Edition (7-Years) or the Caol Ila 12 to the Caol Ila 18.
However, this Octomore 08.1 is three years older than the 07.1 and ironically tastes like it’s half its age with a greater immature and unbalanced peat punch with an overpowering spirity character. This is exactly opposite to what you would have expected. Possible reasons could be a longer spirit cut bringing with it a lot earthier flavours from the peaty wash and/or less quality or older casks.
It has not put me off future Octomore editions at all. I will certainly give the new 09.1 a go when it finally gets to Israel, probably sometime next year.
I know two places here in Yerushalayim where they still have a bottle of the 07.1 in stock.
Checking online, I noticed that there are also a few sites in Tel Aviv still offering the 07.1 for sale, but in at least one of them, when I checked, they were actually selling the 08.1 but had not bothered updating the page. They are still out there though.
The original price in the UK was £100 to £120. It seems to be out of stock in the whole of the UK now. It is still offered for sale in Europe and the USA. There it’s going for between $200 and $250. Here in Israel, such is the nature of the Israeli market (which is, to our benefit, not really on the ball when it comes to changing world values), it’s still being sold at its original price tag (which was at the time overpriced) -  650 shekels! ($175 or £135).
Consequently, I went out on Sunday evening and purchased the 07.1 here in Yerushalayim, grabbing the last but one bottle. (I’m not greedy and have left one for you). They even gave me a club membership discount and I ended up paying 620 shekels. The last bottle is sitting on the shelf, in the store in the Talpiot industrial zone. If you hurry, you’ll be buying a gem, (all be it almost at the price of a real gem stone).


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