Whisky: Octomore 11.3
The Octomore 11.3 is again made from 100% Islay barley from Octomore Farm as has all previous X.3s. The 11.3 release has a PPM of 194 and was aged in ex-bourbon American oak casks from a variety of bourbon distilleries, including Jack Daniels and Jim Beam.
Initial hit of bonfire smoke, ash, coastal sea air, caramel and a touch of ethanol/malt which is understandable given the young age of the whisky.
Very well balanced, the sweetness of caramel is matched with smoky bonfire peat. There’s also chilli and oil that sits on the tongue. A little lemon juice, brown sugar, and tobacco. The finish is long with the sweetness dissipating and smoke lingering.
Nose (with water)
Water tames both the smoke and sweeter notes making the ethanol/malty note more pronounced, but you do get a citrus note as a trade off.
Palate (with water)
Similar to the nose the smoke and peat still pack a fair punch, but recede into the background allowing Sweeter notes such as caramel to move to the forefront along with some candied ginger.
If you love that big peat hit we’d refrain from adding water, but if you’d like a slightly more tamed dram then a few drops will help. Either way this ranks as a favourite among the distillery releases of Octomore. It’s a touch expensive even for Octomore at £175, but we’d still recommend.
- 10 - Perfection. A whisky that we’ll remember forever.
- 9 - Amazing. We’d pay through the nose for a bottle.
- 8 - Great. Pick this up at RRP.
- 7 - Good. Happy to have a dram or two but wouldn’t buy a bottle.
- 6 - Passable. Would accept a dram, but wouldn’t seek it out.
- 5 - Poor. Would drink if it was the only option.
- 4 - Bad. Maybe it can be saved by ginger beer?
- 3 - Awful. It can't be saved by ginger beer.
- 2 - Pour it out
- 1 - We’ve never tried a whisky rated this low and hopefully never will.
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And as a bonus...
Octomore BBQ Sauce
Bonus review by guest contributor Peat Freak.
Made by chef and owner, Derek Mather of Artisan Wishaw, and bottled in 2020, this sauce will peak the interest of any true Octomore aficionado with it being made by arguably one of the worlds biggest Bruichladdich fans.
On the nose this sauce smells sweet and lightly of iconic Octomore smoky peat. On the palate, this is matched with an instant hit of peat if albeit significantly lighter than expected. These flavours are closely followed by sweet and subtle tangy vinegar notes which linger in the mouth for a short period.
Be warned, this sauce is more akin to a sweet brown than a typical bbq and not something I can imagine using to marinate a juicy piece of beef brisket. It lacks the sharp distinctive taste of true brown sauce but hasn’t enough smoke and peat to be considered a bbq sauce either.
As a unique condiment, if you like the thought of a sweeter hybrid between brown and bbq sauce then this may be the one for you, but if you’re looking for a true bbq sauce with a high level of quintessential Octomore peat then I would look elsewhere first, unless of course you would consider adding more Octomore to this sauce yourself.
Alan: I’d just like to interject and say I actually love this sauce. The peat level is subtle, but I think that’s for the best as i wouldn’t want it to overpower the sauce. Yes it’s very reminiscent of a brown sauce, but I don’t see that as a downside. I’d highly recommend. If you do buy this I’d suggest you use this on a bagel with smoked cheese.