Octomore 13 Series


We’ve had a busy weekend working our way through the latest batch of Octomore releases for today’s reviews.

Octomore 13.1

Region: Islay

ABV: 59.2%

Price: £135.00

13.1 was distilled in 2016 from the 2015 harvest of Concerto barley, it was peated to 137.2 PPM and matured in first fill bourbon barrels. In 2021 it was recasked into fresh first fill ex-American oak casks. It was then bottled at five years old.

Nose

Icing sugar, vanilla essence and behind it the expected Octomore peat. The recasking has clearly had an effect giving the nose plenty of sweet notes. Going back to it and there’s charred oak, snack a jacks, sweat, plastic and melted butter on toast. There’s a touch of ethanol, but it does have a high ABV so that’s unsurprising.

Palate

Honey, barely sugars and peat. Then a little too much cinnamon spice on the finish along with a fair amount of peat. Going back to it’s there’s harissa, musk, barley sugar sweets, and coconut milk. It’s got a good mouthfeel, but you can taste the alcohol, and disappointingly there’s more sweetness on the nose than the palate.

Nose (water)

Water brings out a minty note, and along with it some strawberry jam, and lime juice. Sitting behind these notes are the peat. Going back there’s a hint of earthiness, barley sugars and burnt wood.

Palate (water)

Water has brought the palate more in balance, and there’s now more of those sweeter notes to balance the spice, but even still we’re finding it a touch too hot and this heat carries through to the finish. There’s also some smoked oysters and TCP here, but it’s drowned out by the alcohol.

Conclusion

It’s not bad, it has a good mouthfeel, some nice sweet notes, but a little too hot and lacks the peat punch we wanted. For the price we think there are better drams and distilleries to spend your cash on.

Score: 7.5/10 

Octomore 13.2

Region: Islay

ABV: 58.3%

Price: £150.00

13.2 was distilled in 2016 from the 2015 harvest of Concerto barley It was peated to 137.2 PPM and matured in first fill Oloroso sherry butts ex-European oak casks from Fernando de Castilla for for five years.

Nose

Now this is peaty… We poured a dram, went to get some water, and could smell it from across the room. There’s burnt ends, dairy milk, and peet reek. Giving it some time in the glass reveals ash, cola cubes, yeast, melted butter, pistachios, and tobacco. We’re not getting a huge amount of sherry influences on the nose mostly just some faint cranberries and raisins.

Palate

Nicely balanced between peat and sweetness. There’s orange juice, mead, more pistachios, and tar. White pepper lingers on a good length finish. It’s got a nice viscous mouthfeel. Going back and we’re getting some sweet vanilla custard, and apricots. Its easy to drink even at 58.3%.

Nose (water)

With water there’s now notes of toasted crumpets, OXO cubes, and a smouldering fire. We’re definitely getting a little meatiness with water. Going back there’s a hint of pork sausages with more peat pulling through, along with some barley oats.

Palate (water)

This has a good mouth feel with and without water, but it’s now a touch spicier with ginger and green chillis appearing. The sweetness is now more concentrated, and we’re now getting sultanas from a baked Christmas pudding. There’s also less smoke / peat. The finish is a touch shorter and there’s plenty of ginger spice lingering.

Conclusion

It’s worth noting that this isn’t a sherry bomb, but saying that it’s still a good dram... just not blow you away good, and while we’d happily have another dram we don’t need a bottle.

Score: 7.5/10 

Octomore 13.3

Region: Islay

ABV: 61.1%

Price: £190.00

13.3 was distilled in 2016 from the 2015 harvest of Concerto barley from Octomore farm. It was peated to 129.3 PPM and matured in a combination of first fill ex-American whiskey casks and second fill ex-European oak casks hailing from the Rivesaltes region of France and the Ribera del Duero region of Spain. After five years of maturation it was bottled at 61.1%.

Nose

Seawater, barley sugars, strawberry hard boiled sweets, polo mints, and light peat smoke. It’s very restrained for an Octomore with less peat than we expected. What’s not restrained is the alcohol and we’re finding it singeing our nose hairs. This is developing some herbal notes as it sits in the glass, basil, thyme and musk. Going back there’s buttered crumpets, ethanol, and saline.

Palate

Initially there’s some red fruits from the wine casks, along with some caramelised brown sugar and Manuka honey. These notes are followed by the peat, then lots of chill heat and raw cinnamon cane on a long finish. It’s got a good mouthfeel, and unlike the nose you can really taste the peat on the palate. Unfortunately, it’s also got a little too much alcohol bite for us, but like the 13.1 that’s understandable given the ABV. Hopefully water will help.

Nose (water)

Custard cream biscuits, and burnt sugar frosting. We’re finding the smoke is now even less prominent on the nose, and we’re still getting getting very little wine cask influence. The herbal notes have morphed into a warehouse funk. It’s also still singeing our nose hairs even with water.

Palate (water)

The palate definitely benefits from a drop of water bringing the alcohol more in balance, and pushing the peat into the fore, it’s now reminding us of log burning fire. While we’re getting lots of vanilla cask sweetness like white sugar cubes it’s not all good as we’re also finding the mouth feel diminished and there’s alt hint of bitterness coming out in the form of grapefruit juice. There’s also now some cracked black pepper on the finish along with ash / soot lingering.

Conclusion

Our current favourite Octomore x.3 is the 11.3. This release falls short of that and is also £15 more expensive. That’s not to say it’s bad and with water we definitely enjoyed it more than the 12.3 release, but it’s not one we need a bottle of.

Score: 7/10 

And the winner is...

Because our scale takes in price you’ll find 13.1 and 13.2 have been given the same score. Here’s our ranking of the bottles in order of preference ignoring price.

  1. Octomore 13.2
  2. Octomore 13.1
  3. Octomore 13.3

We've also reviewed the 4th release in this series, you can find that review here.

  • 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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