Two of the world's most heavily peated whiskies, Octomore 7.1 is the last Scotch released by Bruichladdich’s Master Distiller Jim McEwan, while Octomore 7.3 is made from barley grown exclusively at Octomore Farm on Islay.
Inspired by an entrepreneurial flair and a youthful enthusiasm, the Harvey brothers began construction of the Bruichladdich (pronounced brook-laddie or broo-lah-dee) Distillery in 1881. The brothers were descendants of a dynastic whisky family — their ancestors had already owned distilleries in Scotland for over a century. Today, Bruichladdich Distillery (Bruichladdich means "rocky shore" in ancient Gaelic) remains situated on the shores of Loch Indaal on the island of Islay, and continues to use much of the original equipment installed by the Harvey brothers.
The modern Bruichladdich Distillery is known as the most experimental and adventurous of the Scottish distilleries, and the Bruichladdich Octomore Series represents a singularly unique expression in the world of Scotch whisky.
Bruichladdich Octomore 7.1 is the distillery’s final release under Master Distiller Jim McEwan’s tenure. The whisky takes its name from Octomore Farm, a farm situated high above the village of Port Charlotte, just two miles away from Bruichladdich Distillery (the farm provides all of the barley used to create the whisky). Harvested from mainland Scotland, the barley used in this release is then malted before being peated to an absurdly high 208 phenol parts per million, making it one of the peatiest whiskies in the world.
After the barley has been peated, it is mashed using water drawn from the Bruichladdich loch. The water is soft and devoid of minerality, which makes it ideal for mashing and fermenting the barley. Following fermentation, the wash is twice distilled through Bruichladdich's 130 year-old, 20-foot tall, diamond-shaped stills. The Victorian-era stills produce whisky that is notably floral and elegant. "We have a distillery," says Jim McEwan, the master distiller at Bruichladdich, "and we know how to use it."
Once the whisky has been distilled, it is matured for five years in American oak before being bottled at 119 proof without the use of chill filtration or artificial coloring. As a result, Bruichladdich Octomore 7.1 has a sandy color, with aromas of sea spray, caramel, lemon peel and tobacco. The palate is filled with bright notes of peach, citrus fruits and honey, and is complemented by heavier notes of chimney smoke and leather. The peat is evident on the finish, with bold flavors coming together for a long, memorable sensation.
“The feeling is of long summer nights turning cooler as autumn approaches. This dram will transport you to Islay, to watch the sun setting over the sea while breathing in the peat smoke hanging in the air,” says McEwan.
Bruichladdich Octomore 7.3, on the other hand, is crafted from barley harvested on the Octomore Farm. Distilled in 2010 from grain harvested on Lorgba Field that same summer and peated to 169 phenol parts per million, Bruichladdich Octomore 7.3 is then matured exclusively on Islay in American ex-bourbon barrels and Spanish wine casks of Ribera del Duero.
As a result, Bruichladdich Octomore 7.3 has a pleasant aroma of peat smoke, butterscotch, toffee and poppyseed muffins, which leads to a palate filled with notes of oak, ginger, apricot and melons. The finish is refined, with full-blown peat flavors intermingling with notes of saltwater taffy and vanilla.
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7.1: Sandy color, with aromas of sea spray, caramel, lemon peel and tobacco. The palate is filled with bright notes of peach, citrus fruits and honey, and is complemented by heavier notes of chimney smoke and leather. The peat is evident on the finish, with bold flavors coming together for a long, memorable sensation.
7.3: Pleasant aroma of peat smoke, butterscotch, toffee and poppyseed muffins, which leads to a palate filled with notes of oak, ginger, apricot and melons. The finish is refined, with full-blown peat flavors intermingling with notes of saltwater taffy and vanilla.