If the Bruichladdich distillery on the Scottish island of Islay is best known for its annual Octomore iterations—limited-edition, peaty single-malt whiskies that are distinct in flavor thanks to the ever-changing assemblage of casks in which they are matured and finished—the latest such release from the brand promises to bolster that reputation. The Octomore Masterclass 08.2 ($200, available exclusively in duty-free shops worldwide) is a refined whisky characterized by maturation in casks that once held a variety of grape-based libations.
At its core, Masterclass 08.2 is a marriage of spirits matured for 6 years in second-fill casks that held Sauternes, Mourvèdre, and Austrian sweet wine. Those whiskies were then vatted and matured for an additional 2 years in first-fill barrels that held amarone. The spirits’ interaction with those amarone-soaked casks is largely responsible for the whisky’s attractive russet-gold hue.
Fruity aromas of stewed apples, raspberries, and black currants balance the single malt’s characteristic peat smoke. On the palate, cask-imparted sweetness makes the first impression and also lingers—a welcome counterpoint to the strength of a whisky bottled at a bold 116.8 proof. A touch of water reveals floral and citrus notes.