Monday, 19 July 2010

Bruichladdich Octomore Orpheus

Lochside Hotel
Shore Street

Phenols are not something to which I'd given much thought before I started getting into whisky. Measured in parts per million (ppm), they describe the peatiness of a spirit, or the length of time the malt used to make the whisky is smoked over a peat fire. Octomore, produced by independent Islay distillery Bruichladdich (pronounced Brook-laddie), claims to be the most heavily peated whisky in the world, at a whopping 140 ppm. To illustrate how peaty this is, ponder that the standard Ardbeg 10, which is generally considered to be peatier than peat itself, clocks in at a comparatively benign 50 ppm.

On Islay, in between distillery visits, there was plenty of time to check out a few of the island's incredible whisky bars, and it was in one of these (Bowmore's Lochside Hotel) that we came across the Octomore Orpheus (edition 02.2, five-year old, 61% vol) - which takes the conventional Octomore and finishes it in red wine casks from Chateau Petrus, Bordeaux. We ordered a dram from the bar, between the three of us (for £11!), and braced
 ourselves for a peat explosion. It was certainly peaty, but while we were expecting to be physically assaulted by phenols, we were not. Maybe the wine finish took the edge off, but this left us feeling rather underwhelmed, and poorer with it.

: I belatedly found our tribe's 
tasting notes for the Orpheus, which read as follows...
Nose: Forest fire with burnt tyres, honey roast ham.
Taste: Salt, chorizo and honey, with a very long finish.


  1. I've got a sample of this at home (a Master of Malt one at half the price) and I've not cracked it yet. I've heard mixed reviews, but generally it looks like you and I both may have not got a great dram for our money.

  2. I think maybe it tastes more striking if you haven't had half a dozen whiskies beforehand...

  3. There's only one way to settle this. I'm going to have to try it again. *Sigh*