My first taste of Octomore was back in December 2012 when I discovered the 4.1 in Calgary. I told the salesman that I had read about this in Toronto but had never seen it. He offered me a sample and it became my most expensive purchase to that date, but I have not yet opened it. I foolishly gave up the opportunity to get a number of batches at (what would now be considered) great prices the following winter. I’ve got bottles of 10.1 and 7.3 open but this is my first review. In January of 2022 @Talexander gifted me a number of open bottles he was looking to give away. One of these was a heel of Octomore 9.3.
As much as I enjoy Octomore, I haven’t actually sampled too many batches. My understanding is that the .2 and .3 versions contain some sort of variation (wood or barley type respectively). This one is made from Islay barley, Irene’s field, Octomore farm., 2012 vintage. Bottled in 2018, it was matured 5 years, and its peat rating is 133 PPM. It is natural colour and not chill-filtered. The bottle was almost empty when I received it. It has been gassed since it’s been in my possession.
This expression is reviewed in my usual manner in a Brilliant Highland Whisky glass, allowing it to settle after which I take my nosing and tasting notes, followed by the addition of a few drops of water, waiting, then nosing and tasting.
Fruit and peat in the forefront. You can probably smell the peat across the room. Baking spices. A very rich, “warm” nose. No difference with water.
Sweet, spicy arrival. Vanilla, cinnamon, peat. Very rich, chewy mouthfeel. Water opens it up a little bit. A bit more sour in the development. (22.5/25)
Ashy, astringent. Puff of smoke on the exhale.
Very rich, nose complements palate. A little bit overwhelming neat. Water definitely makes it more approachable. (22.5/25)
Score: Neat - 88/100 With Water: 89/100
Lets face it. You don’t look to Octomore for subtlety or complexity. This is an in your face peat monster. But what makes it so good is that there are no flaws, no unhelpful harsh qualities that you can often get with young whiskies.
This is a very good whisky. Octomores are consistently good. It’s unfortunate that these whiskies have priced themselves out of my collection for new acquisitions.