Octomore 11.1, 5 years old, 2014-2020, 59.4%, 139.6ppm

So, no bridge between weeks of reviews this time. Can’t think of anything that isn’t ridiculously far fetched.

This Octomore is peated to 139.6 ppm. If my information is correct, that the is the amount of phenols measured in the malted barley. This means that distillation still happens after measurement, as well as maturation, in which phenol levels always go down.

Still, a whisky is considered heavily peated when it’s around 40 to 50 ppm of phenol. Think Caol Ila, Lagavulin, Ardbeg and Laphroaig. I’ve once read that an average human nose can start picking up levels of smokiness in whisky when there’s about 3 ppm left in the final product. anCnoc releases the occasional peated whisky, on which they state the phenol levels of the distillate itself, and when they sit around 11 to 15, the whisky is considerably smoky.

What I’m trying to say in a very roundabout way is that peating something to 139.6ppm is kind of ridiculous. Generally I don’t care for Octomore. I’ve tried quite a few when they started to come out years ago, but it’s just not for me. The amount of smoke on the nose and palate obliterates all other flavors and aromas and the complexity is completely gone.

Also, there’s the inevitable discussion about price. Octomore comes with a hefty pricetag. Peating malt is an expensive process. Peating it to three times the level than regular heavily peated whisky is insanely expensive. And to end up with a drink that I don’t like means I don’t spend money on it. That is, once more in a roundabout way, saying that I got this sample from a friend.

Image from Whiskybase

Let’s dive in!

Massively earthy and peaty. More like a highland peat style than I would’ve expected. Marram grass and straw, quite green and mossy.

A rapid build to insane bite and strength. The peat pushes back everything and even the smoky notes are suppressed or maybe just up to such a level that my palate shuts down. Green and young.

Not a long finish, with some grassy, slightly coastal notes. Peaty, but not much else.

As said, all complexity is pushed to the back or completely gone. It’s quite a green whisky which isn’t strange considering what Islay peat is made of, and the youth of the whisky on top of it. Honestly, I don’t care for this. If you’re into smoky whisky and want to try the extremes, go for it. But if you prefer to be able to discern some flavors and have a contemplative dram, this one isn’t for you.

Of course, all personal preference aside. It’s not badly made or wrong. It doesn’t have any defects and it does exactly what it says on the tin. So there’s that.


Still available quite widely for about € 150


About Sjoerd de Haan-Kramer

I'm very interested in booze, with a focus on whisky. I like to listen to loads of music and play lots of Magic: the Gathering, and board games too. I'm married to Anneke, have two daughters Ot and Cato, a son Moos and a cat called Kikker (which means Frog, in Dutch). I live in Krommenie, The Netherlands.
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