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Bruichladdich Octomore 7.4 Virgin Oak Cask

A Sickie Day Surprise!!

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@SquidgyAshReview by @SquidgyAsh

21st Apr 2016


Bruichladdich Octomore 7.4 Virgin Oak Cask
  • Nose
  • Taste
  • Finish
  • Balance
  • Overall

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Bruichladdich's Octomore 7.4, Virgin Oak Cask, 7 years old, bottled at 61.2% at 167ppm, 12000 bottles for the world.

Where does one start with this whisky?

Stunning? Special? Doesn't begin to cover it for me to be honest. I was lucky enough to spend my last birthday at Bruichladdich on Islay, where as part of the tasting I was privileged enough to be allow to pull the whisky straight from the cask.

So imagine my surprise when the Spirits Platform contacted me and said they had a little present for me. They were coy, not spilling the beans on just what it might be, so I was absolutely gobsmacked when this 200ml sample arrived.

Unfortunately I was ill with the flu, so unable to taste anything where I could smell/taste reliably, however I'm finally on the mend and able to taste once more!

Let's get into the whisky a little bit shall we? Well it's an Octomore so there's definitely the smoke and peat on this bad boy, but much less then then one would guess. a bit of alcohol on the nose, a heap of oak, a bit of smoky bacon, vanilla, some wet cardboard, there's a small amount of fruit hiding amongst the smoke and meat, apples and sultanas, but this takes time and patience to pull out of the whisky. This is a whisky I could spend hours nosing happily.

On the palate, it is spirity, especially if you're not used to high abv, but if you're used to high abvs it's pretty mild. I found it so approachable. Soft and sweet, again mildly smoky, vanilla, some dark chocolate, and again the fruit, but it's more of a lemony citrus note then the apples and sultanas

I pick up on the nose.

The finish is soft, and dry. A puff of smoke that disappears and then reappears.

This is an absolutely stunning whisky, better then I remembered trying in Scotland, and a whisky which I will be picking up in the near future.

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Victor commented

He's......baaaack! Hey Squidgy, nice to see you posting a review after a nearly full term 9 month gestation...!

So I guess that you felt that the new oak worked well here. Great. Do you have any information as to how the oak was handled, specifically, was it toasted, lightly charred, or heavily charred? I think that the key to using new oak with barley whisky is to control the oak by keeping the opening of the wood influence under control. With heavily peated whisky more oak flavour will balance more easily than it will with unpeated barley whisky...hence e.g. Ardbeg Alligator, using very heavy "alligator" char. With an Octomore, I would expect charring of the new oak barrels to balance the strong peaty flavours, but I am interested to hear if the distillery gave you any information on this.

8 years ago 0

SquidgyAsh commented

Hey buddy!

Good to be back! I've missed the gang!! Decided to put the Apocalypse on hold for a bit and just chat whisky while I work on the story!

Had to dig out the information that the company gave me to answer your question :D I'm so lazy, I should include it in my reviews, but it feels like such a stinking sales pitch then!

Alright French Virgin Oak and American Virgin Oak.

Complex Cask Management, which and here we go!

25% of Bruichladdich Octomore 7.4 spent the entire 7 years in virgin oak casks.

75% of Bruichladdich Octomore 7.4 had the following cask regimen...3 years first fill bourbon casks, then 2 years in virgin oak casks and then a following 2 years in first fill bourbon casks.

Which explains why the balance is so well done...I honestly struggle on most virgin oak malt whiskies...something about the flavor, not bad, but does just nothing for me. Turned down an Amrut single cask for just that reason....was ok, but meh....they've done a damn good job on balancing the oak, spirit and peat/smoke with this!

How's life buddy!?

8 years ago 0

Victor commented

Other than world whisky prices becoming like Australian whisky prices, life is very good.

Thanks very much for that very comprehensive information about the wood aging of the Octomore 7.4. That is extremely intelligent of the distillers to carefully tweak their varying stocks of oak aged whisky in order to get an effect which works well.

8 years ago 0

SquidgyAsh commented

Awesome to hear buddy!

I was pretty impressed when I reread the aging regimen for exactly the reason you said....They acknowledged that there were issues with just leaving the whisky to slumber the entire time in virgin oak, so dealt with that accordingly.

I hear prices in the USA and Canada are starting to go up...and whenever I look up prices in the USA on single malt and even some bourbons....they're starting to approach Australian prices....

I can understand the rise in Scottish prices (sorta) but in American whiskey...wha?!

8 years ago 0

Victor commented

Even price competitive Heaven Hill has figured out that they have pricing power now. Ergo the 2011 Elijah Craig 18 year old single barrel price of US$ 32-65 (I bought several at $ 32)is now a $ 120-200 bottle in the US, plus tax, of course.

8 years ago 0

SquidgyAsh commented

That makes me so sad...I'm coming to Kentucky next year and after 6 years of silly Australian whisky prices was hoping for some steals and now it sounds like the odds of that are very low....I swear a whisky bust is on it's way and I can't wait to see prices realign!

8 years ago 0

Victor commented

@SquidgyAsh, the possibility of a price bust in whisky is something I have thought about for a very long time.

What I think is going to happen with whisky when hard economic conditions again hit is this: 1) the low end mass produced basic products will decline in price moderately (10-40%), and to the extent that it is necessary to lower price for the brands to stay competitive with market share. The brands will always make most of their total revenue (not margin), from the big volume products; 2) the premium products will react more like real estate in a strong market-- prices will probably remain steady, and relatively high, for many years while the prices of most everyday commodities drop. Nominally, the premium products will hold prices steady, while real inflation-adjusted cost very gradually declines.

I don't see a return to 1985-2008 abundance of premium aged products at excellent prices taking place for the next 30-40 years. Only a true public indifference to whisky would allow that to happen. This is probably a generational phenomenon, and when it does eventually take place, would occur with current whisky buffs once again becoming that odd-ball one in one hundred people who likes whisky.

8 years ago 0

Frost commented

@SquidgyAsh great review, Virgin Casks are really becoming 'a thing'. Hopefully I can find one of these bottles.

7 years ago 0

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