Thanks to a one of my whisky friends, Peter I am able to give these two peated beasts a head to head review. Both are 5 year old and matured on bourbon casks. Both are coming at a seriously ABV of 62,5% and 61%, but the 4.2 is rested for a small period in used Chateau D’Yquem casks. I am very curious about the difference between them, while I only tasted (not reviewed yet) the Octomore 1.1 before. Glasses used are the Libbey tasting glasses and I will taste them both neat! So let’s start. Pouring them immediately shows off their heritage, massive peat evolving form the thick (high viscosity) liquid. The 4.1 is a light pale straw of colour while the 4.2 is showing a little bit warmer amber colour.
Well as already stated both of them are showing their peaty heritage at once. Massive smoke, ashes and peat showing off, accompanied by the high alcohol feints.
After sticking my nose in the glass filled with the 4.1 there is a surprise. The massive peat is disappearing a bit, but still showing quite a lot of smoke and ashes, but giving more gently (watch out these are still beasts) tones of creamy butterscotch, dried pealed oranges, heather and even some herbal influences. Quite more aromatic then I expected from this peat beast, but the high abv is blocking the tones quite a bit.
The 4.2 reacts quite similar as the 4.1. The massive peat is also disappearing, making room for some honey, leather and a somewhat sea breeze like smell. This one is somewhat sweeter in the nose (no surprise) but also more open, showing more flavours, although it is quite difficult to pinpoint them due to the overwhelming peat. Difficult. Let me say nose wise it is a tie!
So time to taste them. The 4.1 is very intense, but also as I am used within the Bruichladdich range very clean or refined. Also a creamy mouth feels and to my surprise it is possible to swirl it around in your mouth quite some time. The taste is beautiful peated, a little bit tarry but never overpowering. Don’t get the feeling that this is the most peatiest whisky in the world. Also some grilled fruits appearing with slight hints of sweetness and freshness. Surprisingly pleasant in a way, with a nice hot peppery (habanero) effect in your mouth.
The 4.2 is a first surprisingly softer then expected, showing the sweet influence of that Chateau D’Yquem cask, but then it happens. The dram explodes in a heavy fire of peat, smoke, ashes and is blowing back in your nose with heavy oily flavours. Wow this is rougher than expected, expected this one to be more gentle due to the wine finish then the 4.1, but this one is showing off and stealing the show, while the 4.1 is still feeling more blocked in a way. Love it, but not for every day! The winner is the 4.2 giving more what you would expect of the heaviest peated whisky!
The 4.1 has a long drying finish, your teeth getting rough and your tongue and cheeks getting intensely tintillated. You know you are enjoying a very peaty dram of Scotland finest whisky and it will let you know for a quite a long time, giving me some problems to clean my pallet to properly taste the 4.2.
The finish of the 4.2., well it feels shorter after that mind-blowing blast of peat and ashes, but still quite long, but this one is screaming “time for a next sip” at once. This is excellent stuff, but the long finish of the 4.1. wins it for me.
The most difficult part with whiskies that are so similar. Both are very good balanced on the nose, although you might want to add some water to get more flavour there (didn’t try that for this review). The 4.1 seems to be more blocked by the high abv and has trouble showing more the refined peat blasts. The 4.2 however shows more of itself due to the finishing on a sweet wine cask, but that blast as you take a sip….. Wow, want it again! Do I have to state the winner in this department?
Fun and difficult experience. Fun to do the naked and the finished one head-to-head. Difficult due to the high similarity and the high peat levels. Fear I will taste the peat tomorrow for all day. Both are pleasant for certain moments. I can’t see myself drinking these refined, clean, very peaty beasts every day, or head to head. Just a bit too much peat for one evening ;-). Well points. Difficult: But I would score the 4.1 at 86 and the 4.2. at 89. That mind-blowing explosion in the taste did it for me. There is something else though. I did hesitate quite long before buying a bottle and I am happy that I did buy a 4.2. But I don’t know if I like it that much to spend over a 100 euro’s for a bottle again. But if you are a lover of peated whisky you have to have at least one Octomore in your collection!