As the conclusion of another year draws closer, I find myself reflecting on the last 12 months and savouring the memory of some special experiences and many incredible drams. I’ve visited distilleries like Deanston, Dalwhinnie, Tomatin, Loch Lomond, Clydeside, Kingsbarns and Lindores Abbey and attended events like the National Whisky Festival, The Whisky Social in Falkirk, The QMU Whisky Club Festival and of course, the pick of them all – Glasgow’s Whisky Festival at Hampden Park.
Perhaps the highlight of the year however was a visit to Islay back in September. In a single week I toured Bunnahabhain and Kilchoman, enjoyed lunch at Ardbeg, tasted drams at Laphroaig and Bowmore and had warehouse tasting sessions at Lagavulin and Bruichladdich. Somehow I even found myself being shown round the site of the new Ardnahoe distillery. This was my third visit to the island yet it will certainly not be my last.
Islay is a place of quite staggering beauty, with weather and light that can change in a single heartbeat. There are ample places to enjoy some good food and it seems every public house has a whisky list to die for. There wasn’t a single day that I failed to come across a new gem of a dram from one of the islands great distilleries, but one of the standouts, without a doubt, came during my visit to Bruichladdich.
At the end of December I like to select something a little bit special for my final review of the year and after my visit to Bruichladdich, I was left with no choice but to choose the Octomore 08.2. At £120 a bottle, it may stretch the definition of ‘affordable’ a little, but what is Hogmanay, if not a time for indulgence and celebration?! Made from Scottish grown barley and peated to 167ppm before maturation in a combination of wine casks, the 08.2 is a dram of serious flavour…
Smell: Lots of Fruit… Cranberry, Cherry, Raisins, Jam, Lemon and Lime, Barbecue and Cherry Cola and of course, that unique Octomore Smoke with Ash and Charcoal.
Taste: More Fruits with Cherry and Raspberry Jam, Lemon and Lime. Oak, Pepper, and waves of Smoke and Ash.
Value for Money: It’s hardly a bargain, but should you be tempted to part with the cash required to take a bottle home, the inherent quality of the product is going to make it feel like one.
Not as smokey as some of the younger Octomore’s. At 8 years old, the peat influence has had time to settle a little. Instead, smoke mingles with an array of zesty fruits from the wine casks, never does it dominate, but equally, never does it subside. Octomore’s huge peating levels can seem gimmicky at first, but once tasted, there can be no doubt that quality was at the forefront of the creative process. The Octomore 08.2 is yet another exceptional dram in a long line of masterpieces from Bruichladdich.
A fine whisky then, to send us into 2018. I find myself looking forward with great excitement to the year ahead and all the new experiences and beautiful whisky I’ll be able to share with you. I’d just like to take a moment to thank everyone who has visited the site and read my reviews in the last 12 months, I hope you have enjoyed the reading of them as much as I did the writing. I wish you all the best for 2018.
Slainte Mhath & Happy New Year!
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