Yes this is the start of a new “Week” at Master Quill. This time it’s december and the weather is still pretty good for this time of year. Still the cold should be not too far away and I most definitely have an itch for something more peaty. Bowmore, as Caol Ila are known as the more medium peated Islay Whiskies, as opposed to Ardbeg, Lagavulin and Laphroaig that have a more heavy hitting reputation, and Bruichladdich and Bunnahabhain which are even lighter in peat than Bowmore is. Not to forgetting about Kilchoman (new) and Port Ellen (closed).
Bowmore itself had a little problem in the eighties and nineties with some of their Whiskies being called Badedas of heavily soapy, or even full of FWP (French Whore Perfume). I once had a Bowmore from 1989 that had so much of this it made me physically ill (on two different occasions when tasted blind). It made me ignore Bowmore for a long time (and the independent bottler that bottled the stuff as well…)
But after way more than a decade, and hearing Bowmore of late are very good it is time to have another go at Bowmore and look at some of their newer bottlings and maybe some old, who knows? Lets start the Bowmore Week with the newest version of the standard 12yo.
Color: Full Gold.
Nose: Peaty, sweet and animalesk (smell it and you’ll know what I mean). Salty, smoky and vegetal. The peat gives off this typical coastal character. Burning off garden waste (not everything is dry), but also a clean wood fire. These two different kinds of fires coexist in this Bowmore! Hidden (sweet and aromatic) fruits come next, very nice! Little bit of toffee, vanilla and caramel. Fresh, sea air. But the whole is very elegant (for something from Islay). Not in your face. But Bowmore isn’t about heavy peating anyway. Cold tea. Good balance and quite complex, especially for such an entry-level Bowmore @ 40% ABV. Smell it for a while because not all is released at once.
Taste: Sweet, with lots licorice, peat, cardboard and black & white powder. Hints of vanilla ice-cream and wee bits of yellow and red fruits. Waxy, peppery and a funky kind of sugary sweetness underneath (ever so slightly too sugary sweet sometimes, but the fruity sweetness is good). Again an association with garden leaves, but this time just lying there (before being burned off). Very good Whisky. Alas, the palate can’t keep up with the more than excellent nose. To be taken in big gulps for maximum pleasure. Medium finish, but the aftertaste is very pleasant.
This is great Whisky, and has a lot of potential. I would have liked this very Whisky also being bottled at “the new export strength” of 46% ABV, I would be very curious how it would have turned out, also at cask strength it would be a blast. It smells fantastic, the taste is a wee bit simpler but still well made, very well made. It’s almost too good for an entry-level malt. It just is too watered down, which (alas) makes it an entry-level malt.