Octomore is the super-heavily peated single malt produced by Bruichladdich distillery, the most routinely heavily peated in the world. The Octomore single malts were first distilled in 2002 by Jim McEwan as a single experimental project to see just how peaty they could make whisky (a curious feat for a distillery not known for their use of peat). Since its launch in 2008, the Octomore series has wowed the whisky world and stolen the hearts of smoky Scotch lovers.
We got in touch with the distilling team at Bruichladdich to find out exactly how they have managed this incredible feat...
Rich peat is sourced from Tricia and Robert Sutherland of Berry Croft, Halkirk, Caithness, Scotland. Barley is sourced from the Scottish Mainland, apart from the .3 Editions which are always 100% Islay barley from Octomore Farm.
Octomore is malted at Bairds Malting located in Inverness using Saladin boxes. The trick to Octomore’s high PPM is that the barley is cold-smoked for five days using 8T of peat.
a) Peat smoke is recycled and passed through the barley more than once
b) Barley is misted with water allowing the smoke to cling to the grain more
c) The heat in the maltings will begin at a low of 50°C and will gradually increase up to 80°C over 24hrs.
The output of dry malt is 40T at 3% moisture. The phenol count is measured using HPLC (high performance liquid chromatography) and has reached in excess of 300ppm
The barley is ground at Bruichladdich on a mill installed in 1913 to the following ratios: 20% husks, 65% middles and 15% flours. This goes for Bruichladdich, Port Charlotte and Octomore.
Bruichladdich have one of the last cast iron, open-top mash-tuns left in Scotland. They use 7T of grist with the following waters:
1st water – 23,500ltrs at 65°c - extracting around 40% of the sugars
2nd water – 12,500ltrs at 86°c - extracting around 30% of the sugars
3rd water – 23,500ltrs at 88°c - extracting around 15% of the sugars
4th water – 12,500ltrs at 93°c - extracting around 15% of the sugars
The first two waters extract most of the sugar from the grist and move forward for fermentation, while the last two waters are reserved for the next mash.
The full mash takes just over 8hrs to complete.
The wort is transferred through a heat exchanger to around 18°c before being added to an available washback (made from Douglas Fir).
Initial wort temp 18 degrees. Using equal parts of the yeast strain, Kerry (M Strain) and Kerry (MX Strain). Yeast quantity totals 125kg per washback which results in a wash strength of 6-7% alc./vol.
In the wash stills temperatures will run at 94-110°c. The low wines will start to run off after around 4 ½hrs with an ABV of around 24%. The duration of the first distillation is 6 ½hrs.
Once in the spirit stills, fore shots will begin to come through at a temperature ranging from 78-90°c. The approximate running time of the spirit stills is around 7 hours and is broken down as follows.
FORE SHOTS: 35-50mins.
This is the methanol of the distillation and is run through the two outer jugs in the spirit safe and down into the low wines and feints receiver.
MIDDLE CUT = 2 ½hrs.
This is the ethanol or new make spirit that will later be filled into casks. Bruichladdich’s spirit runs from 64% - 74% ABV.
FEINTS = 3hrs.
These are the undesirable last runnings of the distillation. The ABV will drop down to 0% as harsher esters become more prominent and the still begins to take up more water.
Octomore is casked at a strength higher than industry standard (63.5%) at approximately 68.5%
Octomore is matured primarily in ex-American whiskey casks, virgin oak and European wine casks such as Bordeaux, Ribera Del Deuro and Austrian Sweet Wine to name a few.
Octomore is bottled at cask-strength and like all Bruichladdich releases are of natural color and not chill-filtered. Age ranges from 3 – 12 years.