Kilchoman 5 Year Old (Master of Malt)

Distillery: Kilchoman
Bottled: 2013, Distilled: 2008
Age: 5 years old
Bottles: 286
Bottler: Master of Malt
ABV: 59.6%
Cask: 1st-fill Bourbon
More Info: WhiskyBase

Nose: Faintly herbal with a coastal edge, like clifftop bushes. Acidic peat smoke giving way to sour-dough bread, butter, fresh oak, caramel, and custard creams.

Palate: Sweet vanilla caramel wraps bitter, peat smoke and charred wood, followed by unripe green fruit, sea-water, and floral notes.

Finish: Briny, with liquorice root.

That first-fill bourbon cask is really evident here – so much fresh oak, floral notes, and vanilla! That trade-mark Kilchoman smoke is quite dry and earthy so it’s a nice mix of savoury and sweet flavours.

Octomore Rivesaltes Cask 2008 (RABT)

Distillery: Octomore (Bruichladdich)
Bottled: 2014, Distilled: 2008
Age: 6 years old
Bottles: 302
Bottler: Rest And Be Thankful
ABV: 64.1%
Cask: French Oak (Rivesaltes Wine Cask)
More Info: WhiskyBase

Oh, hello, Octomore. You smooth, sweet, delicately-caged tiger of a whisky.

For the uninitiated – Octomore is the super-heavily peated line of whiskies produced by Bruichladdich. They tend to have a complex character, with a lot of really interesting flavours coming out in spite of the very high ABV and PPPM.

It’s weird, but I find the Port Charlotte releases more in-your-face-peat-smoky than the Octomore – with a typical phenol level of between 160 and 260, this is a big surprise (PC is nearer 40, about the same as Ardbeg).

I’ve had the pleasure of several official bottlings, last year’s Feis Ile bottling, and even a generous measure of a Château d’Yquem matured 10-year-old at the distillery warehouse*.

This stuff is always an adventure to taste, so an independent bottling is very exciting news indeed. Aged six years entirely in a Rivesaltes French wine cask. I don’t know much about Rivesaltes as a wine, but I understand it’s aged for a long time so I’m hoping for some dry, tart, rich character to come through to the whisky.

Let’s dive in…

Nose: Salted butter, Hollandaise sauce, cured meats, icing sugar, wax, damp dusty wood, fresh leather, sherbet, pear skin, refreshers and fragrant resin.

Palate: Sweet and oily with pine resin, basil and honeydew melon. It develops into formidably drying earthy peat smoke, alongside toasted oak, sea salt, lime juice, ginger and vanilla cream.

Finish: The sweetness dies down to leave salty and savoury cheese crackers, with earthy peat. After a few minutes, it feels like you could pick it out of your teeth!

Wow! Like being at an old wooden amusement park at night, eating eggs-Benedict, while the children enjoy sweet candy floss and salty popcorn. Honestly, it’s like a three-course-meal of a dram. Loads of unusual savoury notes amidst the expected peat smoke and sweet, buttery fruit notes.**

My gosh, I loved this. At £185 it’s more expensive than the standard Octomores (usually somewhere between £90 and £150 on the primary market), but that Rivesaltes cask really works for me and it takes the spirit in a new direction – I mean, how often do you nose a peaty whisky and get Hollandaise sauce??

Quoth the Rivesaltes, “Octomore!”.

Bottles and samples on Master of Malt are £185 and £13.57, respectively. Rest-And-Be-Thankful are a mystery to me as a bottler, and I can’t find any information about them. If anyone knows anything, do give me a shout on Twitter!

* Yes, it was sublime.
**I didn’t add water – this really doesn’t need it, at all.