I’m ashamed to say that, even though I love peated scotch, I have only had a few drams of Bowmore during my brief whisky journey. That being said, those were incredible experiences, including the independent Islay Violets 33 year old as well as a few others enjoyed around the fire of the person who gave me this sample.
Kent Hough (Instagram: @whisky_ass) and his wife, Cheryl, have been very kind to me since I discovered their Saturday night whisky fires roughly two years ago. It’s a place where everybody feels accepted, no matter your walk in life. More than once, I have ordered an Uber from their place when the birds have long started chirping their morning songs. It was during one such fire that Kent gave me some Bowmore samples as I was waiting for my driver late at night, including this one.
This is Bowmore’s Release No. 3 in their Tempest series. It hit the shelves in 2014, back when scotch prices were not at the insane heights they are now. It’s 10 years old, was matured in first-fill ex-Bourbon casks, and was bottled at 55.6% ABV.
Nose: I love peated, ex-Bourbon matured scotch. It really lets the distillate shine through. From my limited experience with Bowmore, it doesn’t have a brash character about it. Instead, it’s relatively light and floral, but still rich in flavour. This one is no different. That floral note jumped out of the glass straight away, but has settled down. There’s a hint of crisp sea air, but it’s not briny. I’m getting a freshly made apple pie, crust and all. It’s light on the vanilla and heavier on the toffee. Candied ginger and cinnamon round this out.
Palate: That first sip was delightful. Citrusy, malty, slightly salty (ed note: rhymes!). Ex-Bourbon matured peated scotch is usually grilled lemon forward on the palate. Instead, the citrus here comes across as a slightly bitter orange marmalade. As this progresses to the backend of the development, the bitter/sour character increases, transitioning into pink grapefruit. At the same time, the cinnamon and ginger spice rises along with the sourness and bitterness from the citrus. Along with the toffee sweetness, this is one of the most balanced drams, I’ve had all year. The apple pie appears at the beginning of the development, but fades into the background mid-palate.
Finish: The spice and toffee sweetness sticks around a long time. Ditto for the sour grapefruit note.
What a fantastic experience. Even nosing the empty glass put a smile on my face (people need to be doing this more often, even if your significant other may give you an awkward side-glance). As a reviewer, the best drams are those that tingle every area of your taste buds and this was definitely one of those moments for me.