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Hi, this is one of our (almost) daily tastings. Santé!

April 9, 2013


Tasting some Bowmore (yet again) including our 300th

Spring IS around the corner in Alsace. It just cannot not be. So maybe today is the last occasion to have some heavy wintery peaters at high strength, such as… A few Bowmores again? Yeah, any excuses, really, anyway, this time we won’t build a line-up and then taste them all back and forth like we usually do, we’ll rather choose one after the other, like we would all do in a bar. We’ll see how far we’ll manage to go…

Bowmore 15 yo 1997/2012 (53.7%, Whisky-Fässle, bourbon hogshead)

Bowmore 15 yo 1997/2012 (53.7%, Whisky-Fässle, bourbon hogshead) Four stars and a halfThe excellent Whisky Fässle (little cask) already had several no-less excellent middle-aged Bowmores in the past, including some 1997. Colour: straw. Nose: my, this session starts well! A crystal-clean, hyper-Bowmorean Bowmore, with everything that’s needed well in place. Peat smoke, very clean, sea air, a little vanilla cake, some seaweed, some lemon and then we’re back on peat smoke. Or when simplicity’s an asset. With water: becomes a notch farmier (hay) and more vegetal. There’s also more brine (with fish inside, hehe). Mouth (neat): perfect. Very peaty and salty, all that being coated with some kind of white chocolate flavoured with tropical fruits, especially maracuja. More walnuts after that, manzanilla (I guess it’s the saltiness that gives you this feeling, this is obviously no manzanilla cask). With water: a little rounder and sweeter. And indeed there’s a little maracuja. Finish: long and fruitier, which is a little unusual in finishes. Comments: I think another Bowmore has to be much, much older to beat this ultra-clean style. We’ll try later on ;-)… SGP:456 - 89 points.

Bowmore 16 yo 1996/2013 (52.7%, The First Editions, refill bourbon hogshead, 70 bottles)

Bowmore 16 yo 1996/2013 (52.7%, The First Editions, refill bourbon hogshead, 70 bottles) Four stars and a half Colour: pale white wine. Nose: the colour’s lighter but this baby’s actually got much more vanilla at first nosing, it’s certainly rounder, more civilised, with also more pastries (hot croissants!) Some toasted wood as well… Having said that, the coastal peatiness would wake up after a few seconds, together with notes of almonds, but everything remains gentle and civilised. With water: becomes wilder and drier. A lot of soot, ashes… The roundness disappeared, in a Jekyll and Hyde move. Mouth (neat): again, it’s sweet and creamy (mouthfeel) but it also becomes immensely citrusy, much more so than the 1997. Lemon and grapefruits, then pepper and peat. Quite perfect. With water: tropical fruits! I’m not saying this could be a 1966 but these grapefruits and passion fruits are welcome. Finish: long, slightly toasted again (bread). Very salty aftertaste. Comments: what’s not to like? SGP:556 - 88 points.

Bowmore 16 yo 1996/2013 (57.1%, Alexander, SwissLink 6, refill bourbon hogshead)

Bowmore 16 yo 1996/2013 (57.1%, Alexander, SwissLink 6, refill bourbon hogshead) Four stars and a half Colour: pale white wine. Nose: same whisky as above, more or less. Maybe a little bit less rounded but that may well come from the lighter %. With water: maybe a wee bit less sooty and a little more mineral? Not too sure… Mouth (neat): same profile yet again, this is just punchier and maybe a little more peppery. With water: yes, almost the same whisky. You could down two bottles of each to try to find nuances and differences, and you’d still need more. Finish: same. Comments: same. A lot of salt again. SGP:556 - 88 points.

Good, time to tackle some officials, don’t you think?

Bowmore '100 Degrees Proof' (57.1%, OB, +/-2013)

Bowmore '100 Degrees Proof' (57.1%, OB, +/-2013) Three stars and a half I’m scared because some batches of the older ‘NAS Cask Strength’ from ten years ago or so used to be absolutely repulsive. Okay, this can only be better, I doubt they would have added some old lavendery batches to this newer vatting. Colour: gold. Nose: we aren’t far from the indies, not far at all. This has just more vanilla and maybe a bigger spiciness (ginger), possibly from some more active wood. With water: as almost always, it’s Bowmore’s wilder side that comes out. Kelp, oysters, fisherman’s nets, peat..; Having said that, the ginger remains there. Mouth (neat): exactly the same comment, it’s more or less the same make as the indies, with more sweet oak, vanillin, oranges, ginger, touches of nutmeg… That makes it a little easier and sexier, but maybe a little less appealing to die hard Bowmore fans. With water: ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon come out. Oak! Finish: long and gingery. Comments: shall we say it’s a little more ‘commercial’ than the indies? I have to say I’m less a fan of the modernish gingery side. SGP:456 - 83 points.

Bowmore 'Springtide' (54.9%, OB, sherry, +/-2013)

Bowmore 'Springtide' (54.9%, OB, sherry, +/-2013) Two stars Same comment as above and this time we’re thinking of the dreaded ‘Darkest’ from years gone by. Terrible stuff (in my humble opinion, as always). Colour: amber. Nose: blow, trumpets, there’s no links whatsoever to the evil Darkest. We rather have a very dry, chocolaty and smoky profile, some dried kelp, notes of Seville oranges and maybe just tiny-wee touches of pencil shavings. So no old bodega butts involved, I guess ;-). With water: ouch, the ginger and the pencil shavings become loud and do not seem to go too well with the brine that’s included here. Having said that, there are also rather beautiful camphory touches, parsley, balsamico... Mouth (neat): well, it is a little bizarre. Heavy cinnamon, bitter chocolate, a lot of ginger again, all that clashes a bit with the saltiness and even with the smokiness. Becomes a little bitter (Fernet Branca). With water: not quite. Dissonant. Salted blackcurrants, liquorice and anchovies in brine. Finish: long, on the same kinds of notes. Comments: peat + sherry can be a winning combo but sometimes that doesn’t quite work. A weird, pretty quirky dram that does not take water well in my opinion. Bring the Tempests over! (but yeah, it’s a funny one). SGP:555 - 75 points.

So mixed feelings, let’s call the cavalry. Or rather heavy artillery… Because I’ve just checked that this will be Whiskyfun’s 300th tasting note for a Bowmore…

Bowmore 1964 (43%, OB, Soffiantino, +/-1985)

Bowmore 1964 (43%, OB, Soffiantino, +/-1985) Five stars Colour: mahogany. Nose: the opposite of the Springtide, or Beethoven vs. Slipknot. We’re in ‘Bicentenary’ territories here, this is amazingly complex, rather peatier than other Bowmores from the mid-1960s, and more herbal too. I get some vetiver, some spearmint, various sweet Swiss or Italian cheeses (no heavy ones, do not worry), Spanish ham, then more raisins and prunes, Virginia tobacco, leather polish, maybe a little tamarind, old Port and other such wines, touches of old roses, incense… Oh well, the list of aromas is endless. Stellar nose. Mouth: would make anyone cry. This palate is even more spectacular than the nose, which does not happen very often with old or oldish whiskies. Amazing combination of dried fruits (figs first, then two thousand other dried fruits), longans… All that together with the most subtle herbal liqueurs and cough syrups. Better leave it at that, or you’d need to call the anti-maltoporn brigade. One could write pages and pages about this s.t.u.n.n.i.n.g. whisky. Magnificent sherry (what pajarette???) Finish: its only slightly weaker point, it’s not the longest ever. The Bicentenaries, for example, are a little longer. Chocolaty aftertaste, raspberry ganache... Comments: loses one point at the finish. Yeah I know… Anyway, it’s astounding, legendary whisky and everybody knows that. SGP:655 - 94 points.

I think we should now stop this session. We may have many other old Bowmores later but it would be very difficult to climb over the 1964 right now…







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