Disclaimer: I'm really bad at identifying blind samples
This mystery sample was provided by @Nozinan and the sample was poured November 21, 2019, bottle 2/3 full when the sample was poured, and the bottle opened April 29, 2019. Unlike "blind" tastings that are done for every pay-to-play whisky award on the planet, this was a true blind tasting and that's all the information I was given.
Tasting notes, neat from a Highland whisky glass
- Nose: earthy peat, smoke, a bit of iodine, a bit of leather, some mint/menthol, lime leaves, a faint cherry note, a touch of salted caramel
- Palate: fruitier than expected on arrival, raisins, caramel, black pepper, a bit hot, fruit salad (pears, peaches, pineapple, cherries)
- Finish: long and warming, peat (earthy rather than ashy), caramel, raisins, pears, black pepper
- Score (neat): 91/100
Initial guesses: Amrut Peated Cask Strength, Bowmore Tempest, Ardbeg Corryvreckan
- Nose: the fruit comes forward, raisins, cherries, cranberries, pears, with the smoke hanging around in the background.
- Palate: softer, but with more pepper, smoke, and oak, yet less fruit
- Finish: the peat is more "iodine-laced" now, with lime, menthol, and a bit of caramel hanging on
- Score (with water): 89/100
Reveal: Octomore 7.3
Well, at least two of my three guesses were in the right area this time.And in my defense, I probably guessed Amrut just because I know how much @Nozinan likes their offerings. I really enjoy mystery tastings. They're humbling and force me to focus on smell, texture, and taste rather than expectations derived from labels, packaging, price point, and marketing. Bruichladdich claims this is peated to 169 ppm, but honestly this doesn't feel any peatier than Ardbeg Corryvreckan (hence my guess). In fact, according to this video at about the 10:50 mark, there's a chance that these peat measurements are off. Whereas every other distillery on Islay measures peat levels in the barley by using HPLC (high performance liquid chromatography, apparently the gold standard), Bruichladdich does not use that method. Looking at the big picture, this may not matter much. What really matters is the quality of the whisky. At five years old, I was surprised to find this much fruitiness behind all that peat. The Spanish wine casks must have been fresh and active.
- Would I accept a glass of this if it were offered to me? Without a doubt. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
- Would I order this in a bar or pub? Unlikely. This is a fairly complex whisky and I feel like a bar or pub environment wouldn't be conducive to proper enjoyment.
- Would I purchase a bottle? If the price was right (under $150, which is unlikely), I would absolutely buy one.