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Lucky for my nearest's and dearest's birthdays only crop up once a year. They say I'm difficult to buy for so I've made it easy and suggested Whisky and if they need specifics I mention Islay. They don't drink the stuff so guidance without being too direct reduces the potential risk of unwrapping mouthwash and worse, having to drink it and look like the cat who got the cream. The fact is I'd be just as grateful but you get my drift no doubt.
So it was with astonishment and uber delight that I ripped the wrappers of Octomore 4.2 on my special day. I'd waltzed and tangoed my way through a 6.1 earlier this year and just when I thought it was safe to let the taste buds relax with a Port Charlotte, 4.2 mesmerises and mashes my senses in one magic swoop.
It's is an incongruous dram bulging with peat yet clever with it's Sauterne sweetness.
The nose is gorgeous. I don't like the word but it seems to capture the cornucopia of chocolate mint, stewed pears, preserved apricots, salty lemon and pipe tobacco in a worn leather pouch. I really like the flavours and probably had that look on my face that Beagles get at the airport when they find an apple in your briefcase.
The palate really takes a while to unravel. It's immediately sweet and borders on botrytis. Then it melts...no integrates...no transforms to caramel mashed with liquorice. Then I get some salty walnuts and warm raisins. It's almost overwhelming and then the confusion clears and reveals more measured doses of each component and as I struggle to identify them I thought bugger...start again. It's magnificent.
The finish is a pleasant tipsy narcosis where you have really good memories but are not sure where they all came from. Who would have thought that peat and sweet rhyme so well.