Bowmore 26 French Oak Barrique – The Vintner’s Trilogy

Thanks to /u/xile_ for the sample.

I slag off Bowmore a lot.

Starting with positivity today. I’m just shitting rainbows up in here.

Now don’t get me wrong. I won’t mock anyone for enjoying Bowmore. And I’ve certainly had some fun, interesting times with Bowmore.

That all said, I should probably note that those fun times, those “I’m going out of my way” times were always cask strength, and were usually independently bottled. Something about the way that Bowmore releases their versions, vats things, or just the taste profile versus mine never really makes me wake up. Even before you go-go.

Enter Bowmore 26: The Vintners Trilogy. Old Bowmore, aged in ex-bourbon barrels for 13 years, before being moved over to French oak ex-wine barriques for another 13 years.

No finishes, full maturation, interesting casks, and not at weak alcohol by volume. Alright, you have my attention. I’ll throw away my past ideas, and go into this excited. Let’s see how it tastes, shall we?

Price: N/A at the LCBO

Region: Islay

Bottled: 2017

Cask Type: French Oak Barrique

Abv: 48.7%

Colour: 10YR 3/6

Nose: Sour plum sauce, strawberry, light licorice, hot chocolate, rain in an evergreen forest, snickerdoodles

Immediate sour plums and red fruits. Just a bit of spice, some cocoa/cream going on. It’s all quite tasty.

Water though… water takes this up higher. It grows into this super evergreen note. Sorry if you’re reading this from a tropical place and don’t know that note. Just amazing to nose.

Add to that a big buttery/spicey/caramel note that shows up and you’re in a happy place.

Taste: Fresh tarragon, black licorice, candied apple, brine, brown sugar

Again, slow build. The evergreen/herbal/vegetal notes are right at the start, more spice, lovely strong sugary/apple note. Water brings out molasses and brine notes. So more good things, in other words.

Finish: Apple skin, almond, mesquite, algae/swimming in a lake on a hot day, black cherry

Almost bitter at first. Goes in a new direction there, balances out some of the sweetness. There’s a smokey element that’s quite prominent that reminds you this is Bowmore.

Water brings out a lot of algae/vegetal notes. Some funk too, with a bit of tart cherry. I’d say the finish was the hardest part here, as it’s not as balanced, nuanced, or complex as the taste was.

Conclusion: Evergreen perfection is what I’d called this. Well, maybe not perfection. I really shouldn’t use that term, as some will expect a perfect score.

Look, if you like traditional style IPAs, or very tarragon forward herbal dishes, or even if you want to see what Bowmore can do given time and a good mix of casks, then this is it. It’s dry, it works, it’s balanced, and I enjoyed it.

That said, it’s not perfect. The finish took water and time to really excel. I wanted more, just because the taste had more.

That all said, it’s well worth trying, having a pour, or even buying if you’re looking for a pricey OB.

88/100

Scotch reviews #1126, Islay review #301, Whisky review #1747

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