Thursday, June 13, 2013

Posh, Classy, & A Little Naughty – Octomore 4.2 Comus

Octomore 4.2 Comus
So with the recent D.T.W.C. event well and truly passed and I am finally through a month long cold it is probably time I got this review up for the limited edition Octomore 4.2 Comus by Bruichladdich.

To recap this whisky was our evenings focus for the recent D.T.W.C. held on April 20th, 2013. Myself being the evenings Host, MC, DJ, Chef and all around Nice Guy of Australia's Premier Whisky Club the choice for what whisky was to be on offer fell gladly into my hands. What to buy and how much to spend really was no object as long as club funds were not to be exceed. Being a massive fan of Bruichladdich's Octomore series my original intention was to nab a bottle of the current 5.1 release though I was not completely convinced it was the way to go. So I headed into The Oak Barrel to review some options knowing the Octomore 5.1 was in stock. On arrival I was still thinking through the options until I spied the last bottle of Octomore Comus 4.2 on the shelf. Should I… shouldn't I… what the hell OK I will. I did not know anyone that had actually tried it and the helpful staff at The Oak Barrel were a little hazy on descriptors for it. I knew some members really did not like the massive peat blast Octomore offers and my previous experiences with Sauterne finishes have not been great, so in some ways 2 negatives equaled a positive and that is why I decided to risk it all because experience is what this club is all about.

This bottling has been classed the worlds most heavily peated whisky with a phenol level of 167ppm. That is huge and to achieve this level the barley must be toasted over peat fires for many days. In comparison to something like an Ardbeg 10yo that only has a few hours toasting this is pretty extreme to say the least. But this is a young whisky at only 5 years old, and an ABV at 61%, the spirit sweetness is still very prevalent so I expected the Sauterne finish would cushion the pettiness even more.

Bruichladdich are no strangers to buying the best and sometimes strangest limited run casks available so it is not surprising when the whisky is subtitled as having been given Reserve Cuvee, Yquem Cask Maturation. In short this means casks used for aging Sauterne wine produced by Château d'Yquem in France. Posh, classy, and a little naughty.

The packaging is grand as usual for Octomore with the long stemmed frosted bottle and steal embossed container. The words "Virginal" are used quite often by Bruichladdich to describe this whisky. If you look deeper into the histories of Comus, to the Ancient Greeks he is a God of Excess often depicted as drunk, unconscious and more often than not naked or half clothed. Bruichladdich attribute the inspiration to the play written by John Milton back in the early 1600's of Comus attempting to commit lot's acts of virginity robbing at his pleasure palace. Yes, it all seems fitting don't you think?

Not to drag this out anymore than is physically possible (but I will for the pure pleasure of manly enlightenment) the bottle of Octomore 4.2 Comus has a little poem etched into the frosted finish I can barley read. It is as follows an extract from the play 'COMUS' by John Milton.

"This Nymph, that gazed upon his clustering locks,
With ivy berries wreathed, and his blithe youth,
Had by him, ere he parted thence, a son
Much like his father, but his mother more,
Whom therefore she brought up, and Comus named...
And, in thick shelter of black shades imbowered,
Excels his mother at her mighty art;
Offering to every weary traveller
His orient liquor in a crystal glass..."

With that artistic interlude we better get on with the show yes?

Octomore 4.2 Comus
Distiller: Bruichladdich
Location / Region: Islay, Scotland
Finished: Reserve Cuvee, Yquem Cask Maturation (Sauterne)
Style: Single Malt
Alcohol: 61.2%
Phenol Levels: 167ppm (Parts Per Million)
Available: 18,000 bottles globally

Colour: Golden straw with a obvious syrupy vicious behavior when simply poured. Bruichladdich pride themselves on non-chilled filtering and suspended sediment was abundant in the liquid. It really had some visual depth as light refracted through the glass. Very nice.

Nose: This is where Comus really comes into play and the shining spotlight to focus on in this expression. Clearly high peat levels but nowhere near as extreme as the standard Octomore release. Following is scents of sandal wood smoke in the front that lingers well and truly in the glass after the dram is gone. I also get herbal salts, almonds (most likely from the french oak), and on the tail strange nips of sarsaparilla. A truly decadent nose.

Taste: For me this is where is starts to fall apart in my opinion. Remarkably soft across the pallet before a fiery spiced intensity overtakes everything that starts to heat the pallet and throat. Lots of dry smokes but everything else gets smashed aside way too fast to even notice. I really did try, and try again to find it but fell short every time.

Finish: Medium in length noting the spices retained in the upper throat throughout with a mild heat in the chest igniting slowly.

Overall: This is whisky is clearly committing deborturous, decadent, carnal acts in the bottle, around the glass, up the nose, across the tongue and deep down in the throat. The nose of course is the most outstanding thing before everything just gets muddled together like a first time teenager not knowing where turn start in a excessive roman orgy.

Now that you have read the review it may be worth viewing what Jim McEwan, Master Distiller at Bruichladdich had to say about it in his short video:

To give a dram I reluctantly give it a 5 3/4 out of 7. Though a great experience to try, I am glad 4.2 has had such a limited run. I still believe Octomore in its simplest form is exceptional but it struggles to be modified to far from common ground. I am sure one day that right combination will be found and praise Bruichladdich for taking the risks to find it.

Das Baron