Thanks to /u/boyd86 for this sample.
Bowmore. I’m reviewing a Bowmore after reviewing a bunch of rougher drams. Do we see a potential pattern?
That said, Bowmore SMWS 3.228 “A deep, brooding masterpiece” is a bit of a different fish.
First off, it’s much, much older than the last few drams I’ve reviewed. Second up, there are a few Bowmore’s that I’ve enjoyed. Tempest, Laimrig, and Devil’s Cask. And what do two of those have in common?
That’s right, they are in English and have Greek roots. Oh, no, wait, that’s not it at all, I’m horrible at identifying where words are from.
No, two of those are cask strength and from sherry casks. And so is this one. Big difference here? It’s independently bottled and quite a bit older. That could make quite the difference.
So it’s an older dram from a distillery that isn’t typically loved that is, in fact, quite old.
Sounds like a good mix. Let’s see how it tastes, shall we?
Price: Sold Out
Vintage: December 1987
Age: 26 years
Cask Type: Second fill sherry butt
Colour: 5YR 3/6
Nose: BBQ steak, charcoal, carrot juice, cinnamon, lemongrass, strawberry, molasses, roasted chestnuts
Big BBQ flavour, like visiting the South and eating at the right restaurants, typically called pits with giant fire areas and mops for flavour.
On top of that, there’s some earth and sweet notes. Good spice, great roasted flavours, and the sherry element has paired well.
Taste: Caraway, herbes de provinces, grape jelly, strawberry jam, oats, caramel
Thin. I know this is cask strength, and had some greedy angels. But the first thing that hits me is how thin it tastes. I’ve had lower Abv. from drams that were just as old, and didn’t taste this thin.
Mostly herbal, earthy, and a flavour of gelatin in it. Big oat flavour pops up.
Finish: Toast, chicken skin that’s been browned with oil, cloves, roasted corn, brine, cocoa on truffles, or maybe truffles with cocoa, cinnamon cereal, thyme sauce
Finish is really complex. It’s like a toast bomb, if that’s such a thing. It’s all roasted flavours, with some earth, sweet, and spice. There’s some salt that shows up for the first time, and I like it.
Much better than the taste. Big flavours on the finish. Why I love drinking it over and over.
Conclusion: What we, as a current culture, see as angels, with fat cherubs or asexual nigh goddesses, is not what stole from this dram. No, the old view of circular murder machines that were dreamt up by medieval monks who had nothing else to push their energy into.
I say that in anger because this dram is hurt by it. It’s thin on the taste. It’s been robbed, almost. The finish is still great, and the nose is so inviting. If more Bowmores smelled like this, we’d have them up there with Ardbeg or Lagavulin.
Sadly the angels were greedy, and there’s some gaps in this one. I enjoyed it, but it left me wanting more.
Scotch review #536, Islay review #120, Whisky Network review #891