The battle of the Point Threes

When I just started collecting more bottles, I just had to add an Octomore to my collection. Why? I do not know. Back then, I really wanted one, but I'm not sure if I would add one today. But I added one back then. And reviewed that Octomore 10.3.
Since Octomores tend to differentiate in flavour and PPM almost every edition, I really wanted to compare it to another Octomore. And since I received a sample of an Octomore 06.3 from a colleague, I am able to compare 2 versions of the "Point Three". 

What is a Point Three?

The Bruichladdich distillery brings out these Octomore series yearly since 2008. Aged for 5 years, it is a relatively young whisky, but incredibly heavily peated. The PPM count goes through the charts.
(PPM is parts per million, in this case phenols.)

Per edition, (in 2023 already in series 14.) Bruichladdich brings out 3 versions. (Sometimes 4, like in serie 7.)
Each version has something distinct: Type of cask, type of barley.
The Point Three has as signature that it is made with 100% Islay Barley. Also known as the "Local Barley" version.

The Point Three also seems to be the one that reaches insane amounts of PPM. For example, the current record for highest ppm in a Scotch whisky is being held by the Bruichladdich Octomore 8.3.

To summarise: Octomores are heavily peated whiskies, that have multiple series and versions. And the Point Threes are made from local barley. I'll compare the 10.3 vs the 06.3.

The differences on paper

Let's start with the basics: The Packaging. The 06.3 was sold in a white tin, the 10.3 in a black tin. Both editions have a clear bottle, where the .1 and .2 are often bottled in a dark coloured bottle.
The 06.3 was distilled in 2009 and bottled in 2015, with an age statement of 5 years. The 10.3 was distilled in 2013 and bottled in 2019, with an age statement of 6 years.
Both pack a punch on the alcohol percentage: A whopping 64% (06.3) and 61.3%. This is at cask strength.
Now, the Octomore series are known for the high PPM they have. There is a very large difference between both drams:
The 06.3 has the highest ppm with 258ppm. The 10.3 is much lower (but still pretty high if you reckon most heavy peated whiskies reach 40ppm) at 114ppm. The Point Threes are local barley, and we even know what field the barley came from. The barley for the 06.3 originates from " Lorgba field" and the 10.3 from " Irene's field". 

Differences on the eye

So what catches the eye immediately is the difference in color: the 06.3 is 2 whole color tones darker in yellow than the 10.3.
A twirl with the glasses leaves a thin, but very clear line. Over time, this line turns into a circle of thick legs, almost like tiny beads on a vertical string. The 06.3 shows a slower descend of the legs and they seem a little thicker than the ones on the glass of the 10.3

Differences on the nose

Up until now, I had a clear way of working to make the comparison. However, this is the step where doubt entered: Would the ppm of 06.3 play with the ppm of the 10.3? If so, should I start with the 10.3?  I decided to go for the numerical order. Still in doubt, I sniffed the glass and took my time:

06.3: Bitter honey followed by warm malts. I also get something like smoked bacon, tobacco, going towards cigar ashes. It triggered a memory of walking into a greenhouse: Moist, warm tomato plants. A lot of vanilla in the end.

10.3: I reviewed this one before, but immediately I get the same scents: Fresh dried hay, sweet pears, citrus and vanilla. Also something like a barn attic in summer. But again the malts and the ashes.

Comparing them, the 10.3 is much, much lighter on the nose. Also much fresher. The 6.3 is a little heavier, but also gives more vibes of end of summer, beginning of autumn, where the 10.3 is more spring, going in to start of summer. Both have a distinct overlap in aroma's, but each differens in the dominance of certain aroma's.

Differences on the palate, and finish

Since the 10.3 was definitely softer and fresher on the nose, and the fact it is a little lower in alcohol, I decided to start with the 10.3.

10.3: I got a very warm start: Peat and ashes, followed by some malt and a fruity freshness of a ripe pear and some malts. Really like the way it even flows into a sweeter spot of caramels and the burned sugar on top of a flan. At the end some more "bitter" notes pop up, like a bit of leather, something a bit salty and some tobacco. The finish lingers in a mix of sweet cereals to a bit of cigar smoke. I really get a taste for honeyed ham of the bbq again. So I decided I need to do that soon!

06.3: Ok. I only had a sample, so no second try. On the first sip, I first encounter a sweetness like warm honey, going over into more fruit like apples and pears, but then followed by a kick of peat. Which is then followed by cereals and citrus. Opposed to the 10.3, the bitternotes don't pop up, the previous tastes "evolve" into them. From honey to sweet chocolate, to dark chocolate for example. And from fruit into dried fruit and even a bit of the leather. This one also carries a mocha like note, going towards a coffee.  The finish is again long, and gives me peat, smoke, but also the more sweeter notes. Again I get the smoked bacon, glazed with maple syrup from the bbq.

Comparing them, they both have an overlap in flavor, but again seem to give different priorities to taste.
The finish for both carries the same notes, but the intensity differs.
Going back and forth between them, the 10.3 seems lighter and a bit fresher. With a bright smoke like a faint campfire. The 06.3 seems a bit fuller and thicker in taste. A little heavier and the smoke goes more towards a fatty smoke coming from a grill: Oak charcoal. 

The final verdict

So I started this blog with saying I might not get an Octomore again looking back. This little exercise of tasting two PointThrees, makes me want to get another bottle. Since both the 06.3 and 10.3 are very difficult to get, I might have to take a look at the current 14.3 edition.
Going for almost 200 euros, I might not get it. But we will see!

Now let me pick my winner between the two I described above:
Since my current context is writing this while it is turning darker outside, and the rain is hitting the windows, blown there in force by the wind, I would prefer the fuller, heavier of the two. Which would be the 06.3. It just hit all the spots and makes me want to sit down, look outside while sniffing and sipping this dram. Something I am going to do right after publishing this blog.
The 10.3 is lacking a little in this context, but I think if I would be writing this closer to summer, with a warmer temperature and the sun setting as a warm dark orange orb, I would prefer the 10.3.
But, for now, the 06.3 wins the battle of the Point Threes!