Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Peatiness, dodgy phenols, and the new Bruichladdich...

From the Drinking for Scotland blog:

Below is the press release from Bruichladdich, announcing the release of the 63.5 per cent alcohol Octomore (five years old, £79 a bottle).

I have (what remains of) a bottle of Bruichladdich"s 3D3 Norrie Campbell Tribute bottling, which is nice enough but peculiar. It's as if the phenols have been layered, like oil, on top of a thin base. The cask-strength Octomore may well be better. I have some of the Infinity and it's very good.

If, however, you're one of the folk who actually managed to get hold of a bottle, don't knock it back all at once. As if you would! Apart from the alcohol, high phenols usually mean bad hangovers. Phenol (the stuff that makes a whisky 'peaty') is a poison, and in sufficient quantities, according to the US Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry can be very nasty indeed. The organisation says that effects (not from whisky,which in truth only contains tiny amounts) but from, I assume, ingesting fairly large, pure concentrations) can include:

Health Effects

* Exposure to phenol by any route can produce systemic poisoning. Phenol is corrosive and causes chemical burns at the contact site.
* Symptoms of systemic poisoning often involve an initial, transient CNS stimulation, followed rapidly by CNS depression. Coma and seizures can occur within minutes or may be delayed up to 18 hours after exposure.
* Other symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, methemoglobinemia, hemolytic anemia, profuse sweating, hypotension, arrhythmia, pulmonary edema, and tachycardia.

Acute Exposure

As a corrosive substance, phenol denatures proteins and generally acts as a protoplasmic poison. Phenol may also cause peripheral nerve damage (i.e., demyelination of axons). Systemic poisoning can occur after inhalation, skin contact, eye contact, or ingestion. Typically, transient CNS excitation occurs, then profound CNS depression ensues rapidly. Damage to the nervous system is the primary cause of death from phenol poisoning. However, damage to other organ systems (e.g., acid-base imbalance and acute kidney failure) may complicate the condition. Symptoms may be delayed for up to 18 hours after exposure.

Hey, now that's what I call a hangover! Pass the Lagavulin/Laphroaig/Ardbeg/Caol Ila...

Actually, I've just come across some even more interesting stuff about phenol, from the Absolute Astronomy website. To say that the substance has a bad history is putting it's quite putting me off my Islay malts. Must see if I can get some of that £14.99, not-very-peaty Aberlour...

"Bruichladdich distillery announce the release today of the world’s the most heavily peated whisky ever.

The inaugural bottling of Octomore, a single malt whisky distilled at Bruichladdich from barley peated to 131 ppm, three times more peaty than any other whisky ever produced.

Demand from 'peat-freaks' has exceeded the 6000 bottle supply. The stocks were sold out before the whisky left the distillery.

6000 bottles Bruichladdich Octomore were bottled @ 63.5% ABV, at 5 years old, RSP £79."


Anonymous said...

I am fairly sure in the day job phenols are one of the nasties we look for in contaminated land!

Anonymous said...

The review reminded me of a recent article in the New York Times (Of all places) about Scottish malt whiskeys, yes whiskeys. The spelling of whisky as whiskey was even defended, but it seems that I along with a cast of thousands wrote to complain and a follow up post was written
It did make me wonder if we export bottles of malt with the word whiskey on them especially for the American market?

Chools of Nairn