Tag Archives: Bruichladdich

Octomore 07.4 Virgin Oak [61.2%]

Octomore 07.4 Virgin Oak [61.2%]

A quick count up reveals that I’ve now been fortunate enough to try 4 different versions of Octomore Virgin Oak. It is a thrill though to now finally try the official distillery release; a seven year old spirit bottled at an almighty 61.2%.

I first tasted Octomore Virgin Oak with Jim in his office. He offered Mike and myself a taste of a spirit, and commented that he could guess what our response would be upon sampling. Well, he was right. Mike and I both tasted it and our response was simply ‘wow’. It blew us away – there was so much intensity, so much power, so much flavour, and the peat.. oh the peat… Jim then told us about the experiment that this whisky was, and from that moment we were desperate to see an official release purely so that we had the opportunity to buy such an outstanding whisky.


A hour or so later Jim took us up to warehouse 12 – the scene of his legendary Feis Ile tastings. He took us on a warehouse tour like no other and during that we helped to roll some casks. It just so happened that the casks were Octomore Virgin Oak so we received a second tasting. There is no better place to taste a whisky than straight from the cask in the warehouse. It is memories like this that remain forever.

The Line Up

Fast forward 9 months and I was again in warehouse 12 with Jim. As were several hundred other people. It was his last ever Feis masterclass [again!] The 5th dram caught my eye: a 2008 Octomore Virgin Oak at 64.4%. I excitedly informed our party and we waited with anticipation. The Octomore did not dissapoint. In fact it stood up well in what was a phenominal line up that included some beautiful spirits, and some equally pokey Port Charlotte. Here’s my brief notes on the Octomore.

Octomore Virgin Oak 2008 [64.4%]
Superb. Very different, but the virgin oak suits the Octomore spirit wonderfully.
Nose: Sweet, smoky, cinnamon and aniseed
Palate: Wow! Intense with lots of menthol
Finish: Huge
So, now you have the story and the history. It was with some excitement then that I tried the new distillery release. Would it live up to what has gone before. Would it be as special as I remembered?

Octomore Virgin Oak 2008 [61.2%]
Incredible, full on spirit, depth beyond its years, well rounded with bags of peat, a lovely dirty quality in a refined whisky.
Nose: Rich, warming, feel it in the roof of the mouth, great intermingling of smoke and wood, peat sheds, meaty barbecues, summer days on Islay, memories of that first taste in warehouse 12 with Jim come flooding back, moorish, heart singing
Palate: big peat hit, full on char, wood strong but adds a beautiful sweetness, charcoal, chewy, smoked paprika, cloves and oranges,
Finish: huge, mouth fillings, lingers forever, smoke remains

So there you have it. What else can be said about the Octomore Virgin Oak? It is a beautiful whisky; one that is full of adventure and experimentation, and one that you will treasure for years to come. Another outstanding spirit from the masterful Bruichladdich.

The Line Up

Feis Ile 2015 Day Two

The second day of Islay is all about Bruichladdich. This year was Jim’s final tasting and what a selection of whiskies we sampled. When you start the morning with a 30 year old single cask you know you’re in for a cracking session. Many thanks to Bruichladdich and Jim et al for the event, it was simply wonderful. Here are some brief notes on a fabulous morning of superb whisky.

Bruichladdich Masterclass

It’s all about the barley

There were two masterclasses on The Whisky Show Trade Day and while they both looked appealing time only permitted a visit to one of them. If you’ve been following our recent posts on the blog you’ll know that we are very partial to Bruichladdich so I was swayed by the opportunity to attend a Bruicladdich masterclass hosted by the delightful Illeach Joanne Brown. And if that wasn’t enough, the class contained two new expressions of Hebridean whisky. Here’s what we tasted.

Michelle in the Still House

Michelle [Bruichladdich Tour Guide]

Welcome to the first in a series of notes about Bruichladdich. We visited the distillery in August and were bowled over by the passion everyone there has for the whisky and the brand – it is like one big family. Therefore we’ve decided to devote a few posts to telling a bit of the story of Bruichladdich through the people that work there. In the near future we will publish our interview with Jim, and following that our discussion with Adam and Allan. First though we wanted to give you an overview of the distillery through the eyes of a tour guide, and who better than Michelle?

Brora 35

Midlands Whisky Festival March 2014 – A Day in Pictures

Brora 35

Our first stop was at Diageo’s stand to catch up with Colin Dunn. It also provided an opportunity to try the Brora 35 Special Release from 2013. The dram had everything we had hoped for; amazing depth and complexity wrapped in a swirl of smoke. We’ve now tried almost all of the Special Releases from last year, and for me, this is the star.

Colin and Chris

It was great to have a chat with Colin (Diageo) and Chris (Compass Box) throughout the day. Two of the nicest guys in the industry.

Caol Ila 12

It’s been a while since I’ve had the Caol Ila 12 so it was time to go back and reacquaint myself with it. For Mike, this is where it all started, and this is a whisky that still punches well above its weight and takes you over the sea to Islay.

Lucas with the Old Pultney 1990

The Midlands Whisky Festival had all of the right people there. We caught up with Lucas and tasted, for the first time, the peated Old Pulteney from 1990. Unusually the spirit isn’t peated, with the peat instead coming from maturation in a variety of Islay casks. This is a fabulous dram, and one of the days highlights.

Balblair 1983

Mike and I are both big fans of Balblair and it was fantastic to try the 1983 vintage again. Full of tropical fruits and spice this is a great whisky.

Glenfarclas Port Cask

One of the days dream drams. This Glenfarclas has been matured in Port Casks for 31 years and provided a perfect accompaniment to lunch as it afforded the opportunity to sit down and savour the whisky

Chocolate and Whisky Pairing

We were thrilled to be able to make Miss Whisky’s chocolate and whisky pairing class. Up for tasting was Tamdhu 10, Balblair 2003, Aberlour 16 (double matured), Balvenie Carribean Cask, and Bowmore 12 – all matched with different chocolate.

Alwynne leading the troops

Alwynne led the session enthusiastically and knowledgeably. Each whisky was expertly matched with a different chocolate designed to bring our different characteristics of both the spirit and the chocolate. One of the most interesting combinations was the Balblair 2003 and the Marou (a 78% chocolate from Vietnam). The chocolate lit up the whisky really enhancing the vanilla notes and bringing out almonds and spices.


All of the chocolate was from the Chocolate Trading Company and it was really interesting that all the bars were ‘proper’ chocolate. And what I mean by that is that there was no flavoured chocolate in the tasting – just good quality bars that matched the whisky.

Learning about chocolate and whisky

Alwynne leading the way!

Exceptional Chocolate

The final pairing featured this chocolate from Madagascar. The chocolate itself contained coco nibs (this is what is present before the chocolate is subject to conching) and was tasted alongside the Bowmore 12. Tasting them together really highlighted the salty notes in the whisky (almost to a sea water level) and was my highlight of the class. Buy this chocolate and try it at home – you won’t be disappointed.

Whisky Notes

Studiously making notes during the class

Carn Mor Tullibardine

Tullibardine may not be at the top of everyones wish list but you should really try and seek out their cask strength stuff. Everyone I have had has been excellent, and this whisky from Carn Mor was no different. It was very savoury neat, but once a drop of water was added it turned very sweet and was almost icing sugar like in taste. Sadly, despite being bottled only 6 weeks ago it has completely sold out!

40 Year Old Teaninich

This was a real treat; Teaninich is a whisky I first discovered through Compass Box who use it in crafting some of their famous whiskies, but this is one of the first I have tried as a single malt. Despite being aged for 40 years this was a fresh, light and zingy dram with minimal effects from the wood.

Flaming Heart

No whisky show would be complete without a visit to Compass Box and it was a real surprise to find that they had Flaming Heart on the stand. I love this whisky; that combination of peat smoke and Chinese five spice just gets me; its a dram that makes me smile – what more could you want?


Octomore – the peatiest whisky in the world and oh so much more that peat. The depth and complexity is astounding, and its probably time I bought another bottle!

2 Year Old Octomore

This was a special Bruichladdich. Two year old Octomore from fresh oak. The cask previously contained Bruichladdich and had now been filled with Octomore Spirit. While you could taste the youth in this – there was a new make tint to it; I would have bought it if it was on sale. It may not be whisky yet, but it is shaping up to be something special.

Old Particular Bladnoch 21

Our final stand of the day was Douglas Laing. This Old Particular Bladnoch was lovely; really fruity and jammy with a good dose of spice.

Old Particular Bowmore 25

My final dream dram token was used on this Bowmore 25. It is a dram I have tasted before and previously I have found it a touch too floral for my liking. At the festival though it hit the spot – a great end to another fabulous show! 

Lagavulin Distillery

Feis Ile 2013 Day Six

Day six of the festival was supposed to be light on the whisky; a mini detox if you like before the spoils of Friday hit us. Lagavulin had other plans though. As you know we missed out on Lagavulin’s day through travelling up to Scotland so we jumped at the chance to take part in a warehouse tasting with the legend that is Iain McArthur. We arrived at the distillery and were led down to the warehouse by Iain who as usual was entertaining us with jokes and stories along the way. The actual tasting was fabulous. Iain was on top form, he was very funny and informative and entertained everyone – he also included the now customary rubbing of whisky into the hair of people who weren’t looking at, or listening to him! The whisky at Lagavulin speaks for itself and it isn’t often that you have the opportunity to try it straight from the cask. Here then are our brief notes of a rather good morning.

Bruichladdich Tasting [Nickolls and Perks]

Bruichladdich Tasting [Nickolls and Perks]

A couple of weeks ago we spent a very enjoyable evening in Stourbridge at Nickolls and Perks in the company of Craig Johnstone from Bruichladdich. For me, this was like going home – I’ve been to the Feis Ile twice and both times enjoyed Bruichladdich masterclasses from the the legend that is Jim McEwan. For Mike, this was to be a great first experience experience of a Bruichladdich tasting and a great appetiser for what awaits in May 2013.

Chester Whisky Festival

Chester Whisky Festival

We were delighted to be asked to officially photograph the Chester Whisky Festival 2012 by Russ who runs the Chester Whisky and Liqueur Company based in the heart of Chester (we’d heartily recommend that you pop in if you are in the area as they often have interesting samples available for tasting!) This was the second year of this up and coming whisky festival and it was well attended with around 400 people making it through the doors during a cold Saturday in the old Roman city. Due to our photographic responsibilities we have less whisky notes than usual about the day, but we will be publishing subsequent posts on the rather excellent Tomatin and Glengoyne masterclasses, and also showcasing our whisky of the day which was a fiery cracker of a dram – stay tuned!