Islay distilleries explained thru Rock and Roll comparisons – Part 1 – Bruichladdich & my review of Octomore Orpheus 2.2

I had a “sit” and a “think” the other day and wondered if I could explain Islay distilleries and their whiskies, specifically to people that are new to whisky, by way of Rock and Roll; which is a universal language.  Right?

Sure, scientists will say that math is the universal language.  If that’s so, why did we send a Rolling Stones tune into outer space?  Answer me that.  It’s not Freakonomics, it’s Jaggernomics is what it is!

So, let’s see if this works out.  I’ll go over the eight existing distilleries and make my comparisons…  First the whisky review then the Rock Band comparison.  Cool?  Cool.

Octomore Orpheus 2.2 – 61%ABV – Petrus Wine Finish$145

On the nose –  Whoa.  Huh.  Interesting.  This is huge.  We’re talking huge.

I’m not sure what has the most influence – the levels of phenol (peated to 140ppm) or the wine finish (Petrus).  Lots of root vegetables with parsnip seeming to win that battle.

Fresh soil and port wine spice.  Grape jam, sweetened overly so.

No smoke whatsoever, this is peat.  Peat and a bit herbaceous, briny capers too.

Currently, I’m sitting outside and with the sun on me and the cool breeze… I could nose this forever.  The day is perfect and this is shining even more so because of the day.

With water, there are some fantastic coastal elements that come to the fore.  Salty sand castles, browning apples, ocean stones.  I am LOVING this with water!

On the mouth – A numbing quality upfront that forces the focus on the finish rather than the flavors upfront.  I need to give this some time and a second go…  An elusive whisky, aren’t you??

Very ashy for sure after the 3rd sip, and once it’s noticed it’s a bit of an affront.  *However*, there are these fine wine influenced notes that offer up some tanniny grape skins (think dark Rose where they use a better part of the skins in production).

Very creamy, ooey.  Yummy.  Me likey.  Reminds me a bit of an heavily peated Black Arts (that Bruichladdich spirit quality shines through).

The addition of water brings out notes of chocolates and spent welding flux.  The mouthfeel becomes massive with a dash water.

Finish – Heavy wine influence, good wine influence.  Not very long though…

In sum – Don’t let the high ABV and 140ppm peating level scare you off (if those do in fact tend to scare you off).  All it takes is a dash of water to subdue this baby and s/he will be yours.  Big, powerful and full of character.  If you can find some, grab some and enjoy sparingly.  A dram will go a long way.  I envision many wonderful conversations being had over a dram of this whisky!

Special thanks to Ronnie R for the sample!!

Gal of Whisky Israel reviewed this one quite a while back as a head-to-head review with Octomore 2.1 and it’s well worth a read!


Bruichladdich – the band! — Man, this is an easy one for me.  Sex Pistols.  Simple.  Easy.  Let’s move on.

Wait, you need more explanation?  Ok, ok…

Back in 1976/77 few major bands had the look or (raw) impact on the music like the Sex Pistols.  Rock was stagnating and Disco was becoming more popular.  But the Sex Pistols burst upon the scene like a lion on new kill.

Compare this to Bruichladdich, look at their kick-a$$ packaging or their all-over-the-place releases of yesteryear (and by yesteryear, I mean the past 8-10 years and up until the newest Laddie Ten).  From the moment they released their amazing new “Laddie Ten“, it takes people from a scratch-your-head, “what are these guys doing?!” position to a more, “Ah, NOW I get it!” position.

And then, like Springbank, they’re making three different whiskies in the same place.  An unpeated one (Bruichladdich), a heavily Peated one (Port Charlotte) and the world’s most peated whisky (Octomore).

What’s more is they have a still (called Ugly Betty, by the way), they they installed a short while back that now makes what I feel is one of THE best gins on the market – The Botinist.  Seriously, A-MAZ-ING gin!

My point?  They are doing what they want to do and not what people might expect from them.  They don’t give a $#!?.  Solid.

“We are Bruichladdich – love us or leave us.”

To me, that’s punk rock and that’s why the are the Sex Pistols of whisky.