Bruichladdich "Octomore 7.4 Virgin Oak" Heavily Peated Islay Single Malt Whisky (750ml) (Elsewhere $270)
This is one of Bruichladdich's old Octomore experiments, what they call a, "what if," project. In 2008, someone decided that putting fresh Octomore at 167ppm into virgin oak casks was a good idea. Nearly a decade later, we are the lucky beneficiaries of that experiment. The fresh oak does something that neither used cask nor the ubiquitous wine casks used at Bruichladdich can match. The rich caramel and vanilla notes soak up that smokiness in a very unique way. The result is a stark departure from the usual Octomore, but in the very best way possible. Big nose of toasties with butter and apricot perserves. Bitter Cocoa, fresh espresso, barbeque sauce, spruce nibs, and bright citrus notes point the sweet stone fruits and toasty smoke. On the palate the sweet coconut meat, spices, and that big peat note coming through. The palate is as big and bold as you'd expect, moving more herbal and medicinal than some of the wine cask finished Octos. On the finish the floral elements of the new oak come through, but without astringency. Bottled at 63% for maximum impact!