On Taste: Bruichladdich‘s Octomores and Kilchoman 100% Islay; Cutty Sark Cocktails; One of One Auction Success

Hello everyone

Various tasting samples have turned up including one that wasn‘t expected from Loch Lomond Distillery. I‘ll leave that one and the Tomatin Italian Collection till next time as I haven‘t yet had time to try them.

First of all, however, I‘d like to say a massive congratulations to the Worshipful Company of Distillers’ charity for the results of their One of One auction held at Hopetoun House near Edinburgh recently. The total hammer price the lots fetched was £1.8 million from aficionados and collectors from around the globe who dug deep for this good cause, the Youth Action Fund, supporting young people aged 16 – 25 in Scotland. Certainly tables 10 and 16 and paddle number 746 seemed to be having a good, if expensive, day! You may have read in other places that the sum raised was a whisker below £2.25 million. That was including buyer‘s premium (I.B.P.)which is always added on by the auctioneer. In this instance I understand that buyer premium or the vast majority of it, is returned to the charity. One of the good things about this sale is that it allows some smaller names to get themselves more visible on the world radar especially when some of the larger names aren‘t in there to grab so much of the attention. Therefore it was good to see Isle of Raasay, Glen Scotia and Tomatin plus a few others getting good exposure. Okay, I know Tomatin is owned by a larger company but it’s not a top of mind name for everyone …yet.

A number of world record selling prices for certain brands were broken on this occasion The two super-expensive lots were a 55 year old Bowmore which went for £562,500 (I.B.P.) and the Brora Iris which netted £400,000 also I.B.P. All except two lots surpassed their minimum estimate. I was particularly vexed for one of those as it deserved to sell for a lot more. The beautiful and unique cabinet containing the bottles of excellent whiskies is a work of art and must be worth several thousands on its own. Indeed, many of the containers here can be admired as works of art once the whisky is finished – and I do hope the new owners actually drink it. Surprise of the day was a Glen Grant The Visionary 68 Year Old estimated at £50k- £90k which went for £212,500 I.B.P. (£170k hammer price). I’m not dissing the whisky at all – it simply went for so much over estimate. Again, the packaging (shown here) is a stunner but you really needed to see it in the flesh, as it were.

Let‘s move on to tasting notes. This year‘s collection of Octomores was released a few weeks ago and my samples arrived only last week (delayed thanks to Royal Mail / Parcel Force). We have Octomore 14.1 at 59.6% vol and peating level of 128.9ppm, 14.2 at 57.7% and 128.9ppm and 14.3 at 61.4% vol and a massive 214.2ppm. All are distilled using Islay barley. They say, „Octomore 14.1 is the backbone of the series and offers a necessary comparison from which the other expressions alternate.“ It‘s been matured in first fill ex-American whiskey casks. 14.2 has been matured in a combination of Oloroso and Amarone casks and the colour does have an interesting pink tinge. The 14.3 spirit has matured in a combination of bourbon casks and second fill wine casks (not specified). All expressions have been matured for 5 years.

The complete Octomore 14 series, including the 14.1, 14.2 and 14.3, is available online at bruichladdich.com and in specialist whisky retailers. Octomore 14.1 is priced at £140, Octomore 14.2 is priced at £155 and Octomore 14.3 is priced at £195.

Rather than show all three notes, I‘ll share my favourite of the three which was 14.1 though a close run with 14.3. I just got more out of it. 14.2 I found a little bit flatter on the palate but do intend to try it again. I‘ll mention it again if I change that view.

Octomore 14.1 (strength and peating levels above)

Appearance: Bright, barley stalk gold; lemon juice highlights. Tears cling really hard to the sides of the glass and are fairly close together.

Nose: Fresh, sea salt air; malty and slightly „sweaty“; smoky. A touch of citrus zest and melon; a little yacht varnish. Grassy and vegetal notes if nosed from the bottle. With water, a bit more varnish or wax at first then brioche dough and cream cheese. Some oak and vanilla plus ripe melon which fades.

Palate: Quite mouth-coating and astringent; smoky and malty with a peppery spritz on the tongue. Citrus oil/zest bitter notes; some wood char and salt.

Finish: Long, smoky, dry and heathery.

14.2 had a lighter mouth feel and a shorter finish for me. There are vine fruit notes plus some barley sugar sweetness and sugared almonds on the nose. 14.3 I found more akin to 14.1 but a touch more vanilla and different fruits on the nose as well as some elements on nose and palate being a bit more intense. Water seemed to damp down the aromas a bit yet I added no more than to the other two. There‘s something for most palates in this year‘s selection unless you simply don‘t like peat and smoke.

My other tasting note this time is Bruichladdich‘s neighbour up the road a few miles – Kilchoman. I find myself wondering how far it is to walk between the two over land without using the roads, if it‘s even possible. Must ask an Ileach! Anyway, this is Kilchoman 100% Islay Barley 13th Edition at 50% vol. distilled from barley (variety – Publican) grown on the farm at Kilchoman in 2012, 2013 and 2014. The spirit was matured for a minimum of 8 years and 44 bourbon barrels were selected for this year’s edition.

Appearance: Barley straw with lemon/pale yellow highlights. Slow, sticky tears.

Nose: Smoke but not in-your-face. Fresh aroma with slight vanilla and ripe stone fruits. Richly toasted barley plus some barley sugar and malt sweetness. Hint of nuttiness; dried grass and some waxy notes. With water, it‘s a bit more waxy at first; a little bit of caramel; touch of ginger and warm, mixed spices; slightly smoky honey.

Palate: Slightly unctuous; smoke and char; rich toasted barley, warm and peppery plus a slight bitterness. Nicely balanced.

Finish: Long and smoky with toasted barley sweetness.

I find myself liking more of Kilchoman‘s output these days. There‘s an occasional one which doesn‘t tickle my palate but you can‘t like everything. It‘s the same for all other distilleries too as far as I‘m concerned. You‘ll find this one in good spirits stores at around £85 (or equivalent where you are dependent on taxes and duty).

I promised last time that I‘d share the cocktail recipes from the Cutty Sark 100 celebrations at end of September once I had the recipes and photography. Well, they and their PR agency have come up with the goods for the cocktails created by the talented guys from Wet & Dry. The apple one delighted everyone, I think, from listening to comments at their daytime event and there was also praise for the Salty Seadog using grapefruit – I particularly liked that one. The third one, with pineapple leaf, I covered last time – delicious. Do try these in your bar/restaurant or at home. I’m going to have a go at making them myself.

Salty Sea Dog (1 serve)

25ml Cutty Sark 12 y.o.

80ml grapefruit juice

20ml grapefruit oleo saccharum

10ml grapefruit salt rim

0.05ml lime

Serve long (see photograph – right). Garnish with a slice of grapefruit.

Berry Bros. & Rudd Welcome Cocktail (1 serve)(no other name supplied)

35ml Cutty Sark Original

55ml Appletiser

5ml Fevertree Clementine Tonic

1 Apple Slice 

This one was served in a whisky nosing glass.

That‘s us for this time. I‘ll be back at the end of the month with more tasting notes and any other interesting snippets that come up.

Till then, happy dramming.




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