Our story begins at Feis Ile 2016, Adam Hannett’s first Masterclass as head distiller. There was a deal of expectation and Adam had indeed something special to share. It was Octomore; but not as we know it. The Octomore proposition had always been straightforward – mind and palate bending levels of peat, with the finesse and elegance of traditional Bruichladdich, bottled mostly at five years old. Sonnets in peat and barley. Now we present Adam’s Octomore “OBA Concept”, a limited distillery release of only 3,000 x 500ml bottles. Rare indeed.
Please enter the 5 digit batch code to reveal the recipe of casks used.*The code can be found at the base of the back of your bottle. e.g. 19/999
Character – Medium weight and well defined for a young Islander. The texture is rich, sweet and mellow and the viscosity of the Sauternes brings balance to the power of the peat. A most sophisticated Octomore – it’s kind of unbelievable to see “The Beast” tamed a little!
Colour – Golden Honey/Ripe Barley.
Nose – The opening is a beautiful combination of peat smoke, bracken, leather, tobacco pouches, bog myrtle & briny waves. Then, little twists of mint toffee enter the system as do the nutty oak notes – both French and American. And so the dance goes on, but where is the French beauty? She waits patiently on the fringes then, at exactly the right moment, she makes her entrance from the epicentre of the spirit, bringing aromatics and flavour the young Ileach can only dream of. From deep in her soul she commits to this amazing relationship, the aromatics relay the message to the waiting taste buds to expect a whole new experience: the raisiny botrytis of the Premier Cru Superieur Sauternes. Its flavours – pear syrup, apricot, candied fruit, guava, passion and citrus fruits leached from the wood. You have to wonder just how surreal this is – a massively peated beast being seduced by a delectably sweet, French beauty – passion changes everything.
Palate – It’s supernatural. The taster is taken on an incredible journey of discovery, the coming together of flavours so far removed from each other you would think it would be a disaster. The kaleidoscope of aromatics transcends beautifully onto the palate which is going crazy with excitement: a new sensory solar system.
Finish – This love affair should never have happened. This is Bruichladdich walking on the wild side, bringing pleasure and excitement to those who have that sense of adventure and passion. The finish may not last for an eternity – but the experience will.
Mood – Mind F**k.
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It started with our friend ‘Demolition Dave’ helping Duncan McGillivray and his gang to demolish the old Inverleven distillery – buying up all the old equipment for scrap and loading it onto barges on the Clyde. All so Duncan had some spares to keep Bruichladdich running in the days of No Money.
As this odd flotilla was being towed round the Mull of Kintyre and up to Islay, Laddie MD Mark Reynier received an email from the Defence Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) in the USA who had been monitoring distillery webcams on the grounds that our processes could have been ‘tweaked’ to produce the dreaded WMD. ‘Weapons of Mass Destruction’.
Never one to allow the opportunity for a good story to pass him by, or to get his beloved distillery in the news, Reynier embellished the tale, which soon grew to involve spies and the CIA and visits by weapons inspectors. All of which made great headline-grabbing copy in the febrile media atmosphere then prevailing around WMD.
One of the stills from Inverleven was dutifully set up outside the old Victorian buildings, and became an iconic sight, with a pair of Duncan’s old wellie boots sticking out of the top to represent those weapons inspectors searching for dangerous chemicals deep in its copper bottomed interior.
A special bottling was commissioned (of course) and dubbed the ‘Whisky of Mass Distinction’ (geddit?) and much hilarity ensued. At least among the Laddies, the rest of the whisky industry having long since given up on the noisily irreverent rebels.
Things were about to get even more eccentric because, shortly afterwards, Islay fisherman John Baker was heading home to Port Ellen when he spotted something awash in the sea off the bow of his boat. Being a resourceful man, he attached a rope to said object and towed it into the pier where Gordon Currie lifted it out of the water. It proved to be a very beautiful yellow submarine.
Very conveniently, the yellow vessel had ‘Ministry of Defence’ and a telephone number stencilled on it, which was of course immediately called. What happened next was to become the stuff of legend. He was connected to the Royal Navy. “I have found your yellow submarine” said John. “We haven’t lost a yellow submarine” said the Navy. Which was an odd response as the evidence to the contrary was overwhelming.
John and Gordon then loaded the submarine onto a lorry and took it to a secret location in Port Ellen (actually fellow fisherman Harold Hastie’s back garden). The local newspaper was called, then the nationals, and the following day the red-tops were full of pictures of the two friends astride the lethal-looking machine, carrying fishing rods, and asking: “Has anybody lost a yellow submarine?”
Hilarious… unless you were the Royal Navy – who did eventually admit to it being theirs. HMS Blyth, the minesweeper that lost it, eventually came to pick it up, slipping into the pier at dawn to winch it aboard. By that time, Bruichladdich had (of course) commissioned another bottling, WMD2: The Yellow Submarine, and a box of lovely liquid was graciously offered, and accepted by the captain as a goodwill gesture.