Octomore 14 Series


We've got a battle of the Octomore 14's today, pitting the newest releases against each other and finding out which we enjoy more.

Octomore 14.1

Region: Islay

ABV: 59.6%

Price: £140.00

14.1 was distilled in 2017 from the 2016 harvest of Concerto barley. It was peated to 128.9 PPM, matured in first fill bourbon barrels, and bottled at 5 years old.

Nose

Initially there’s vanilla essence, lemon juice, soil, and a hint of chlorine. A little time in the glass reveals black pepper, smoke from burning wood, caramel, milk chocolate, dried apricots, verbena, thyme, and tar. The ABV is noticeable, but the sweetness and smoke are in a good balance.

Palate

There's a wallop of peat, ash, earthy smoke, followed by orange juice, peaches, and chocolate, before moving into ginger spice. The flavours feel a bit disjointed, almost as if we've taken a sip of three different drinks simultaneously. There's also a touch of bitterness from grapefruit here, which we're not the biggest fans of. The finish has decent length, but is slightly too spicy, and the mouthfeel is a little disappointing.

Nose (with water)

Reduction brings out a musty cupboard notes, warehouse funk, a little BBQ smoke, or to be more precise hickory smoke. The alcohol is in better balance now. There’s also notes of chopped apples, orange peel, vanilla crisp breads, and oat biscuits appearing as we sit with it.

Palate (with water)

Water has brought the grapefruit (without the bitterness) to the forefront of the palate. There's still a strong hit of smoke, and this has developed a brininess, reminiscent of sardines. There is now even more citrus, with a touch of lime complementing the orange. The ginger spice now lingers longer on the palate, and the flavours feel more integrated now. The mouthfeel remains more or less unchanged.

Conclusion

This definitely benefits from a few drops of water, and some time in the glass to open up. With enough patience you’ll be rewarded with a solid addition to the Octomore range.

Score: 6.5/10

Value

Only £5 more than last year’s.1. If we were being honest we expected a bigger jump in price.


Octomore 14.2

Region: Islay

ABV: 57.7%

Price: £155.00

14.2 was distilled in 2017 from the 2016 harvest of Concerto barley and was also peated to 128.9 PPM. Instead of bourbon, this was matured in the following casks: First-fill oloroso hogsheads (40%), First-fill amarone casks (16%), and Second-fill amarone casks (44%). It was also bottled at 5 years old.

Nose

Initially, there are red berries, caramel, strawberries, toffee, saltwater, and beef jerky. It's syrupy, think prune syrup and golden syrup. Sitting beside these notes, there's lots of earthy smoke, as you'd expect. It has an interesting nose, but for us, the cask influence pushes the smoke and spirit notes into the background.

Palate

There's a nice hit of sweetness here, but the peat dominates on the palate. Burnt coffee, grilled pears, red grapes, and prunes. Having just come back from Italy, we're finding the Amarone is noticeable, bringing a slight dryness, but the sherry isn't overwhelmed and brings a nice sweetness. Good mouthfeel, but nothing spectacular. Similarly, it has a decent length finish with cinnamon spice lingering. Surprisingly drinkable for the ABV.

Nose (with water)

A few drops of water bring out chocolate covered strawberries, warehouse funk, oats, corns, cherries, and a dustiness, As we sit with it more sherry notes appear and the smoke is pushed even further into the background. Different with water, but still interesting.

Palate (with water)

There’s now much more “sherry” sweetness with water. Mouthfeel remains relatively unchanged, and the finish is still a good length. There’s also some saline solution, dark chocolate, lemon and cherry juice here. The smoke is backbone of the dram. Annoyingly there’s a little bitterness here now.

Conclusion

We sometimes find these releases suffer from being a blend of two many casks types, fortunately that’s not the case here. The casks have come together here to create something enjoyable, and a dram that’s a notch above the 14.1.

Score: 7/10

Value

Again, only £5 more than last years .2. Octomore isn’t cheap, and it’s nice to see there’s not crazy price jumps being releases.


Octomore 14.3

Region: Islay

ABV: 61.4%

Price: £195.00

Like the other two 14s, this was distilled in 2017 from the 2016 harvest of Concerto barley, although the barley for this came from Octomore farm. This release was peated to 214.2 PPM, and was matured in the following casks: 50% first-fill ex-American whisky casks. 50% second-fill wine casks. It was also bottled at 5 years old.

Nose

There’s a nice creaminess to the nose along with honey, melted butter, peaches, corn, malt and pistachios. The smoke is the backbone of the dram, but surprisingly subdued given the PPM, and we’d have assumed this was a much lower PPM based on the nose. Giving it a little air reveals peaches, white grapes and burnt white toast.

Palate

You can taste the ABV, but we’re not complaining. It’s well balanced with all things considered. There’s a spice from the alcohol that’s the backbone supporting the sweeter notes of toffee, barley sugars, corn, and lemon juice. the smoke reminds us of a smoker san fish. Good length finish, but the spice outlast the smoke and sweetness. Best mouthfeel of the three drams, that’s a little waxy.

Nose (with water)

Reduced we’re noticing more of the smoke, more pistachios, a hint of treacle and whipped cream. It’s retained its nice sweetness, but this is now better balanced by the smoke. The nose has definitely improved with water.

Palate (with water)

Reduced the spice is in better balance and the sweeter notes have been accentuated. It’s more citrus forward now, and the mouthfeel remains good. The trade off is some of that peat, but there’s still a nice earthiness to it and we feel like we’re chewing a little dirt. The finish remains a good length.

Conclusion

While the nose benefits from water it’s debatable if the palate dies as well. For us the 14.2 just edges this, but it’s still a good addition to the range.

Score: 7/10

Value

Like the rest, it’s only £5 more than last year, but that Octomore farm barley comes at a hefty premium.

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  • 10 - Perfection. One in a million
  • 9 - Outstanding. Exceptional whisky.
  • 8 - Great. Would seek this out.
  • 7 - Good. Quality whisky.
  • 6 - Above average. Happy to have a dram.
  • 5 - Average. Drinkable whisky.
  • 4 - Below average. Passable.
  • 3 - Flawed. Noticeable negatives.
  • 2 - Defective. Significant faults.
  • 1 - Offensive. Pour it out.

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