Google A Bowmorathon, part 3

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

June 5, 2020


A Bowmorathon, part 3

There’s so much Bowmore around!

Bowmore 21 yo 1996/2018 (54.9%, Clan Denny, refill hogshead, cask #DMG 12181, 226 bottles)

Bowmore 21 yo 1996/2018 (54.9%, Clan Denny, refill hogshead, cask #DMG 12181, 226 bottles) Two stars and a half
The brand belongs to ‘Douglas McGibbons’, but I don’t know whether that’s DL or HL, and I’m not really sure I care. I’m not sure either it’s good news that they would all do ueber-retro labels these days. Is malt whisky really a thing of the past? Colour: white wine. Nose: cardboard, mashed turnips, cigarette ashes, sour cream, samphires, capers, sourdough, seawater, lemon juice… It’s almost a dry margarita. With water: very dry, leafy and cardboardy. Raw wool, hessian… The thing is, we need at least a drop of lemon juice. Mouth (neat): a little brutal, extremely briny, grassy, pungent, a tad sour… With water: better, thanks to some grapefruits, but the rest is a tad anecdotal. Wishy-washy cardboardy flavours, some capsicum, green pepper, dry artichoke cordial… Finish: rather long, very dry, grassy, bitterish. Comments: certainly not as bad as you would think after having deciphered my lousy note, but not quite good either. Really not sure about this very grassy one.
SGP:375 - 79 points.

Indeed Bowmore can be fantastic and Bowmore can be pretty ugly too. Oh let’s move on…

Bowmore 18 yo 2001/2019 (55.4%, Signatory Vintage, sherry butt finish, cask #106, 692 bottles)

Bowmore 18 yo 2001/2019 (55.4%, Signatory Vintage, sherry butt finish, cask #106, 692 bottles) Three stars
Bad news, this is only a finishing. Good news, it’s a Signatory. We shall see… Colour: gold. Nose: menthol, hay, horse dung, tobacco, leather, pine needles. Not too sure… With water: chlorophyll gums and latex. Carbon paper. Mouth (neat): yeah good, with tropical touches (bananas, papayas) and some pleasant, if a little extreme, menthol and bitter herbs and grasses. With water: good not great. It works, but its lacking definition. In my humble little book, Bowmore needs precision, or it could become pretty nasty if not totally unpleasant. Finish: rather long but a little too herbal and resinous for me. Comments: it’s a good one for sure, but I find it a little blurred and a little too ‘whatever’. Again, I believe Bowmore needs precision and certainly clean casks. No half measures and no unnecessary experiments!
SGP:465 - 80 points.

A little OB, perhaps…

Bowmore 43 yo 1973/2016 (43.2%, OB, bourbon Hogsheads)

Bowmore 43 yo 1973/2016 (43.2%, OB, bourbon Hogsheads) Four stars
A very funny official bottle that seems to have missed just everything (usually the result of martini-fuelled marketing). I mean, it’s hand-signed by distillery founder David Simson in 1779. Right. Second, it stems from Vault #1, a.k.a. ‘the world’s oldest Scotch maturation warehouse’.  It’s true that Scotch maturation warehouses in Johannesburg, Buenos-Aires or Shanghai are very well-reputed. Oh and it’s been ‘selected by hand’, mind you! Which was a hard task since they’re still owning 4,568,459 casks of 1973., as we all know. In short, a good laugh all around. Colour: gold. Nose: as David Bowie used to say, the 1970s weren’t the 1960s, but we’re still finding a few tropical fruits, especially mangos, plus vanilla, soft honeys, fresh mint and a drop of wood varnish. Probably a little fragile, but the palate will tell… Mouth: rather pretty good, is that politically correct enough? All-fruit juice, pink bananas, papayas, guavas, touches of sugarcane, pink grapefruits, a touch of hops and IPA and more sweet grapefruit. Fine, but... Finish: shortish, a little too tannic, a tad tired, with untidy spices. Comments: sure they’re now issuing these vintages as if they were all the Koh-i-Noors of malt whisky, but seriously, most are very average. Pretty disappointing and certainly not worth £500. What £1,000? £3,000? You say £6,000? Must be a joke, and not a very good one if you ask me. I prefer the chef who always cooks with whisky and who sometimes adds it to the food, or there, the whisky turkey.
SGP:465 - 85 points.

Bowmore 32 yo 1968/2000 (46%, Signatory Vintage, US Import, cask #1428, 248 bottles)

Bowmore 32 yo 1968/2000 (46%, Signatory Vintage, US Import, cask #1428, 248 bottles) Five stars
All the 1968s by SigV I could try so far have been superb. Not that I’ve tasted thousands, most sadly – perhaps 3 or 4?  Colour: gold. Nose: oh yesss, it’s one of those tropical fruit bomb. Passion fruits and mangos with flying colours, tangerines with much panache, and a tiny bit of pink banana just to add a little, say texture. What’s pretty fantastic too is that we’d still find a few coastal elements, perhaps whelks ;-), and these wee dunnage-y smells that always work so well. In fact, it’s not that it’s very complex, it’s just utterly perfect. Mouth: incredible, rather in the style of the 1966s than late-1960s I would say. On full all-vitamin fruit juice, mangos, passions, papayas, then a touch of salt and iodine. This time again it’s not monstrously complex, but boy what a perfect profile. Finish: the rather rougher coastal, salty side of Bowmore coming to the front, while exotic fruits would slowly bow out. That part too is rather spectacular. Comments: the very definition of a fruit bomb, fresher than the rather famous official 1968 from around the year 2000.
SGP:754 - 93 points.

More of that juice please!

Bowmore 31 yo 1968/1999 (43%, Signatory Vintage, Millenium, cask #3817, 238 bottles)

Bowmore 31 yo 1968/1999 (43%, Signatory Vintage, Millenium, cask #3817, 238 bottles) Five stars
Hasn’t it become a little fragile at 43% and after 20 years in glass? Colour: straw. Nose: even more a tropical fruit bomb, imagine! This time the fruits are very ripe, or even preserved, or cooked into jams, with some honey added, and perhaps a little clove. In fact this is not whisky, it’s just a sin. Mangos and passion fruits doing it like Miles and Trane. Please call the Anti-Maltoporn Brigade, subito presto! Mouth: makes you sit down and ponder the real meaning of any other whiskies. No, I’m joking, it’s just superb but rather bizarrely, there’s a little more tea-ish oak in here. Just a little, you know we need to nit-pick from time to time. No picnic though (oh that was so baaad!) Tangerines, mangos, maracuja, gunpowder (tea!) Finish: medium and, just like its American sister, a little saltier, more maritime, more ‘Islay’. Indeed, with whelks. Or there, winkles. Comments: same extremely high quality. I’d have happily blended both 1968 and see what gives, but I’m afraid I’ve already emptied them. You wouldn’t spit a 1960s Bowmore out, would you.
SGP:754 – 93 points.

Before we call this a session, let me try something now, just for the sake of our common cause, truth and virtue in whisky (what?)…

Bowmore 26 yo 1982/2009 (53.4%, Master of Malt, refill sherry hogshead, 195 bottles)

Bowmore 26 yo 1982/2009 (53.4%, Master of Malt, refill sherry hogshead, 195 bottles) Three stars
This is a 1989 that I had tried when it came out, so in 2009, and that I didn’t like too much because it was too, well, you see, 1980s Bowmore. Lavender and such, you know… But I’ve kept the open bottle untouched since back then and would really like to check whether that ‘violety’ side would have gone away over those ten years of gentle breathing in the den. You never know… Colour: light gold. Nose: well it is a little soapy, with too much paraffin and lady’s moisturiser, and probably lavender cologne and a pack of Parma violets, and yes, a pack of raspberry bonbons, but I do have the impression that the rest is rather fine. A little seaweed, rose petals, and guess what? Mangos! And more roses, rosewater, young gewurztraminer…So not quite a total disaster I have to say. No water, let’s not push our luck. Mouth: peat, soap and lavender and violet sweets, that’s not very easy. On the other hand, it’s not too perfume-y, while some pink grapefruits would almost save the case. Finish: forget. Soaps. Comments: after all, this is history, while Bowmore’s distillate, in my humble opinion, became just perfect again right around the year 1990 and remained so to this day, as long as they keep the silly casks at bay. And in any case, there is prescription.
SGP:745 - 81 points.

Wait wait, just found an older bottle of 12 in a cupboard. Around 2015, I think… For the road…

Bowmore 12 yo (40%, OB, +/-2015)

Bowmore 12 yo (40%, OB, +/-2015) Four stars
Colour: gold. Nose: how the distillate improved! Benzine, curry, ink, a drop of tequila, another one of English rum (I mean, Jamaica style)… Then Fernet-Branca, tyres, grape pip oil, stewed broccoli (I know), smoked tea, tar… See, I do like the nose of the 12. Mouth: this juice would deserve 46% vol., that’s all I’ll say. A ‘craft’ side (rejuvenated oak), a lot of brine, olive oil, oysters… and really a lot of salt. Are they still pushing and rolling hogsheads and butts on Loch Indaal to load the puffers? (come on S., this is not 1950). Finish: rather long, salty and spicy. Salted gingerbread. Comments: 40% vol.? Some are getting away with murder if you ask me. But great juice in my humblest opinion.
SGP:355 - 85 points.

Cheers, no more Bowmore in the coming days.

(Thank you Angus, François and Jonny)

More tasting notesCheck the index of all Bowmore malts we've tasted so far







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