|Believe it or not, one more was foreseen that did not make the final cut|
Bowmore 13yo 2003/2016 (56.7%, Cadenhead Wine Cask, Hogshead, Refill Burgundy Cask since 2011, 264b): nose: jalapeño in full force! Green chilli, chocolate dunked in wine, wood varnish and, behind it all, warm earth. The chilli is really distinctive and intense, though is it jalapeño, habanero, or, indeed, Scotch bonnet -- who can tell? Polished dashboards, crushed plums. Mouth: the wine influence is more pronounced, here, with dark grapes, earth and fermenting plums, but the chilli is still well present! Scotch Bowmore-net. The earthy notes grow and become warmer too -- as in: earth, warmed by the sun for a whole afternoon. Quite topical, with this brilliant sunshine. Finish: more of that warm, dry earth, augmented with lots of ripe plums. The chilli is now under control, though remnants of it are there. Far in the back, a delicate fruitiness develops (lychee in brine). The wine influence has all but gone. A superb B-more. Proof one does not need a 1960s legend for a good dram from that distillery. 8/10 (Thanks for the sample, RO)
Bowmore 10yo (43%, Prestonfield House Malt, b.1980s): nose: white wine vinegar, red wine vinegar, then dried citrus peels (lemon, unripe orange). It has quite a bit of finely-milled white pepper, then physalis and sawdust. Hours later, the nose has morphed into oil paint, fish paste and plasticine or Blu Tack -- and it works! Mouth: that dusty and peppery impression lives on in the mouth, though the vinegar makes room for grape juice. This is tame, compared to the nose. A gentle woody note appears, the bitterness of dried citrus peel, very faint. Later, the texture becomes heavily velvety, thick and fluffy, plump, with ripe peaches and apricots. Finish: a refined mix of citrus peel and delicate peat of the spongy, soil-like variety. Pepper and sawdust have gone. The citrus, on the other hand, is bolder, turning into grapefruit. Nice! Later, the finish becomes very soft, velvety and peachy (both the flesh and the skin). Makes it score one more point. 9/10
Bowmore 35yo 1970/2006 (51.3%, SV Cask Strength Collection, Sherry Butt, C#4687, 445b, b#303): note the bottle numbah! Also, this one was bottled on the 15th June 2006, 11 years ago, minus one day. Pure coincidence, as I only found out about that after having drunk this. Nose: woah! Wax, waxy plums, nail varnish (is it shellac?), blackberry, maybe blackcurrant. No smoke whatsoever in this, but so much wax instead! Patras wine (a sweet, fruity, heavy and high-ABV Greek red wine), dark cherries, chocolate brownie, molasses, honey. If you have ever opened the last incarnation of an Old & Rare Platinum Selection by Douglas Laing, before the brothers split and that range became Hunter Laing's, that is what this smells like; varnished wood, glue and synthetic fur. Hours later, a cheese smell enters the scene; Old Leicester or aged Gouda. Mouth: the sherry imparts this one a mildly drying character. It is, again, reminiscent of Patras wine -- strong and fruity, drenched in sunshine. The heat becomes rather intense, with nail varnish and hot cherry compote. Later on, wax seals appear to take over the mouth. Finish: fantastic! All the waxy notes are here, alongside the fruit and the varnish, but they are augmented with a discreet touch of burnt wood, as well as a shy and fleeting tropical-fruit kick. It makes this one waxier than it first seemed. 10/10 (Thanks for the sample, OF)
Bowmore Bicentenary (43%, OB, WS2315, b.1979): nose: ooft! This is on another level of tropical fruitiness! Lychee, mango, guava, pink grapefruit. It is accompanied by a very distant note of tar, but I can barely detect it. Mostly fruity goodness, in here. Later on, mushrooms in soil. Hours later, it has become quieter on all fronts, though it still is very fruity, compared with any other whisky. Mouth: milky in texture, with lots of tropical fruits again (guava, papaya, lychee, pink grapefruit) and Kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, sugar-cane juice, happiness, debauchery. Time and oxidation do not alter it much. Finish: fruit juice, pure and simple. Alfonso mangoes, avocado, pink grapefruit, guava, pomegranate, dragonfruit, and the most minute amount of rubbery tar, minutes after swallowing. At the risk of sounding French: pity they cut this down to 43%. It would have scored even higher at cask strength. Legendary, nonetheless. 10/10 (I know)
Bowmore d.1965 (50%, OB, Sherry Casks, b. ca late 1980s): one of my friends was born in 1965. For his fiftieth birthday, he decided to open a selection of 1965-distilled whiskies. Then, he organised a lottery and sent random samples from those bottles to all who entered the lottery. This one is what he sent tOMoH. I know, I am also shocked at the move and consider never speaking to that friend again. But I will. tOMoH's goodness knows no limit. Anyway, on to the juice. Nose: tar and rubber, decaying fruits (in an advanced state of decay, even), leather. It opens up a bit to reveal more fruit, yet it is definitely not the same profile as the previous two. This is rather a sulphury, rubbery, sherry-casked beast. Acrid vinegar? Not sure, really. I reckon it is simply sulphur and I have a hard time smelling past it. With water, squashed raspberries and strawberries come up, packed in leather purses ("why would one do that?" you might ask). Mouth: warming, with sulphur and leather, un-fresh flesh in tatters. A note of wax takes over, coating the rest, hot candlewax. the texture becomes creamy, with a mild gingery heat. Water makes the wax more outspoken, perhaps, whilst the fleshy bits have more or less disappeared. Finish: this is where it is at. Clad in leather, fruit parades on a tarry road, under the summer sun. Tropical fruit, even, yet it is wearing so much leather and make-up that it loses its natural beauty, in my opinion. With water, red fruit shows up more; red cherries, strawberries, not fully ripe. To be honest, this is a mild disappointment to me. But then, in this line-up, it means little. It is still a very good whisky. 8/10 (Thanks for the sample, pat gva)
Largiemeanoch 12yo d.1967 (54.2%, The Howgate Wine Co., C#2655/6/7): in case you, dear reader, do not know this one, it is one of the most mythical Bowmore ever bottled, eclipsing even the legendary Black Bowmore in the eyes of the few lucky enough to have tried them. It does not come cheap for those who can find it, these days, but just a sniff of it in February gave me goosebumps. Tonight, we confront the less-famous (but arguably better-looking) brother of Kylie and Danii -- Largie. Nose: call the cops; this needs to be locked in a safe! So fresh! Mint and fruit, Thai basil, greengages, lychees, Chinese gooseberries, papayas, white peaches, then mulch and a hint of leather. Dry earth shows up, later on. So complex, this! Later yet, liquid honey emerges, honeysuckle and stroopwafels. Mouth: perfect balance, oscillating between rich soil and juicy tropical fruits. It has a very faint rubber bitterness, then Thai basil, Kaffir lime leaves, perhaps laurel too. And then grapefruit, mango, papaya, dragonfruit, jack fruit, mint, pineapple skin. Honey joins in on the fun, a bit later on. Finish: thunderous slaps of earthy tropical fruits in the face. How can a whisky be so well made? Covered in earth, here are lychee, grapefruit, pineapple peels (and foliage), Chinese gooseberry, carambola, wrapped in Thai basil and mint. This is the best mojito in town, tonight! Time makes it less herbaceous and fruitier, still. Believe the hype. 15/10
Is there a life after Bowmore?