We are often asked what makes Octomore whisky so different from other peated single malts. More specifically, how is Octomore so peaty? This of course is a very different question from why.
Common practice in commercial maltsters is to burn peat for the first few hours, usually between 12 and 20 hours, until the barley has reached roughly the required peating level, then use hot air to complete the drying process, which takes around 36 hours in total. Peat fires are not very hot, certainly not by commercial standards, so this method allows a faster turnaround of barley batches and is more efficient.
To make Octomore, our maltsters, Bairds use a saladin box, in which the malting and drying take place in the same container. They burn peat the whole time Slowly. For five days. 120 hours. The low tempearture of the peat fires allows the barley to dry slowly over peat the entire time, enabling it to absorb the maximum peat possible during this long drying process. Slow matters to us.
All peat is not created equal. Different depths, different moisture content, different locations all determine the vegetal and phenol composition. The way the peat burns on any given day can vary dramatically. We give you what we get and this is why the Octomore ppm (phenolic content, or “peatiness”) varies from year to year and always will. This variety is what drives us. If you want homogeneity there is no shortage of choice out there. We think difference is interesting. And we like interesting.