Most of the time when I review samples, I try to group them together thematically. For example, I have done review flights for whiskies that all came from the same company, the same product line or the same country. In this case, however, there is not really a common thread. One of the specimen I examined carefully is a refined vatting of 14 octave casks, courtesy of Myken Destilleri in Norway. The other is an impetuous single cask bottling from Bunnahabhain Distillery on Islay, released by German online vendor and indie bottler Whic. The two drops are very different from one another. Yet, they are both worth of your attention. So feel free to read on and find out how I liked them.
Myken Octave Symphony 2020
(Myken Destilleri • Norway • 47% • 1,415 bottles)
As the name suggests, the Octave Symphony 2020 from Norway’s Myken Destilleri is composed from whisky that was matured in octaves. These are small casks with a volume of round about 50 litres. The reduced size ensures that the spirit inside gets a lot of wood contact and matures faster. All in all, Myken used 14 octaves in this vatting. They contained either bourbon or oloroso sherry or PX sherry before. When I sniff the Octave Symphony 2020, I get soft nougat creme, fresh wood polish and unbaked yeast dough followed by a vatiety of super-juicy fruits: cherries, plums, raspberries and oranges. The palate is very “Scandinavian” with a good, solid stature. It offers walnuts, pancakes, crisp bread, clotted cream and salted caramel. There is also a good fruitiness provided by dark grapes, apple slices, blueberries, raisins and plum jelly. Towards the end, the whisky gets a little fresher. As it fades, it leaves behind chewy caramel pudding with a creamy mint sauce topping as well as yellow fruits like canned peaches and soft mangos. What can I say … Myken did it again!
Bunnahabhain Staoisha 5yo “War of the Peat”
(Whic • Islay • 60.4% • 295 bottles)
This is the third wave of attack in the “War of the Peat”. And it seems as if the invaders want to end the conflict right here, right now. To do so, they have sent a young, merciless Bunnahabhain into battle. Its appearance is darker than expected. And its smell is intense. I do not even need to draw the glass to my nostrils to breath in the peat. Once poured, the vapors rising from the glass fill the whole room with briny, biting Islay smoke. On the tongue, the whisky does not make any attempts to disguise its youth. It is uber-peated with an electrifying sparkiness and an in-your-face punchiness. Besides dense smoke, it also provides buttered toast, vanilla-flavored milk, sugar-glaced nuts, heavy nougat and mushy apples. The finish emphasizes on the sweetness. Marzipan, flake pastry and orange marmalade storm in to push the peat supremacy aside. Once they are done, the remnants of war stay with us for quite a while. This young and hefty Islay malt is a real battering ram. It fights at the forefront of the invasion and leaves nothing but burned, smouldered ground in its wake!
Myken Octave Symphony 2020 (Single Malt / Norway / 4yo / ex-Bourb. & ex-Sherry / 47% / ~75 Euro)
Bunnahabhain 5yo “War of the Peat” (Single Malt / Islay / 5yo / Hogshead / 60.4% / ~60 Euro)
*** Whisky samples kindly provided by Pinkernell’s & Whic. ***