Bowmore

Review: Bowmore Tempest 10 Years Old Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky by Jason Hambrey

ABV
~55%
Aging
10 years; First Fill Bourbon Barrels
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Bowmore (Bowmore, Scotland)

This is a small batch Bowmore release, each with a batch release and at times with differences in production. It is released at cask strength and is non-chill filtered, so it is a bigger whisky - but also younger. As each batch is different, the ABV also varies slightly with the batches. I always find this bottling odd because I don't experience as much smoke in this as typically in Bowmore. But we can get to that:


Review (2016)

  • Batch: V (55.9%)

  • Bottling Code: L142186 11:49 118

  • Bottling Date: 2014

Tree fruits at first - apple, apricot, peaches, nectarines, and vanilla with distinct bourbon overtones. When you hear Tempest, you expect something extremely smoky and dark– not in this case! Quite rounded, in fact, and quite fruity. The raw malt seems to appear with time, and, indeed, it smells a bit youthful underneath. Spicy and hot on the palate at cask strength, carrying some wood spice and remaining true to youth and fruit. Lightly cleansing on the finish - . Smoke, perhaps, shows its face the most on the finish alongside a touch of white pepper. A bit more alive with a touch of water – some tea notes emerge and the spice on the finish come out more too. The ashy finish I like.

Recommended (81% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Average. Not a bad price for this, but there are better value buys out there.


Review: Bowmore 18 Year Old Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky by Jason Hambrey

ABV
43%
Aging
18 years; Bourbon and Sherry Casks
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Bowmore (Bowmore, Scotland)

I actually know very little about this bottling, other than that it was the replacement for the Bowmore 17 year old in 2007 and that it is made from a combination of ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks.


Review (2014)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: ~2013

Nose: Vanilla, oak, ash, caramel, a bit of pine, and a slight sourness come through, with a slight touch of acetone. There’s some citrus too – orange and lemon zest. It’s ok – but not outstanding.

Taste: Smoke seems to come in at first, edging out the slightly sour and salty whisky – with the oak taking its place more firmly with some spices towards the finish. That being said, the whisky isn’t overly oaky. There are hints of orange throughout. I find a good level of underlying sweetness – I wouldn’t describe it as sweet, but it is at a good level to balance the salt, the sourness, and the smoke.

Finish: This whisky really takes off here – first smoke, which soon breaks down to vanilla, oak, dried apricot, black pepper, and caramel. The smoke, with a slightly salty edge, remains for some time. The mouth dries out slightly after some time.

This whisky is ok, but I hope for a bigger base for the gentle peat and some more subtlety than I find here, especially after 18 years in a cask.

Recommended (81% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Low. Close to $200 for me means that this has to be one of the best whiskies you can buy, so not a value pick for me.


Review: Bowmore Darkest 15 Years Old Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky by Jason Hambrey

ABV
43%
Aging
15 years; Bourbon and Sherry Casks
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Bowmore (Bowmore, Scotland)

This whisky, produced at Bowmore on the island of Islay on Scotland, is aged for 12 years in a bourbon cask before an additional 3 years of aging in a sherry cask. It is called, “darkest”, I assume because of its darker colour compared to its other regular stablemates in the 12 and 18 year old – it is my favourite of the three.


Review (2014)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: ~2013

Nose: The peat of course comes through, but the sherry influence tempers and supports it. Vanilla, canned peaches, custard, and a bit of orange juice come through. The peat combines with a bit of peppery spice for a nice effect.

Taste: There is a citrusy, vanilla tinged entry with some slightly tart dried fruits before the smoke presents a good puff of smoke on the finish. I find the spices more developed than on the 12 year old, with some slight cinnamon and clove and black pepper on the finish as well. There’s a nice level of sweetness, and I find the body and sweetness better set on this one than on the 12 year old.

Finish: Some spices come through with the smoky peat, still carrying a moderate acidic character leaving you a bit thirsty for more. There’s also a slight bit of malt that peeks its head out here and there, which I didn’t notice much on the palate. Smoke, of course, is very present as well.

I do like this malt quite a bit, and I find the sherry finds its place nicely in this one. If you like this, Laimrig is terrific....

Recommended (81% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Average. An average buy for the price.


Review: Bowmore 12 Years Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Bowmore 12.jpg
ABV
40%
Aging
12 years
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Bowmore (Bowmore, Scotland)

Bowmore is on the island of Islay, renown for its quality and often smoky and peaty malts. It is one of the oldest distilleries in Scotland, having been around since 1779. They also contain a malting floor which they use – one of only a handful to do so. It's a nice bottling because it is one of the cheaper good Islays.


Review (2014)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: ~2013

Nose: Smoke! There’s a nice edge of vanilla and apples, with even a bit of orange peel and a slight floral nature. The smoke has much the character of ash, and the peaty note is a slight bit medicinal as well. The smoke is a bit dry on the nose, and at times seems to have either too much or too little dominance, being not perfectly integrated. There’s a slight spicy edge too of red chillies and black pepper. There’s even a bit of dried apricot in the mix, too.

Taste: Comes in with a moderate citrus and light vanilla pudding and caramel background before giving way to smoke and some black pepper. There’s a bit of smoked meat in the smoke, as well. I hope for just a bit more body to balance out the smoke in this one, and perhaps just a touch more sugar to balance out the salty tinge.

Finish: Smoke, mixed with a light fruity character, including even some pomegranates, and some light vanilla and caramel. At this point, the smoke seems to separate a bit too much from the rest for my liking. I get some artichokes and some of the medicinal and iodine-like character of the Islay peat. I find more apples and slightly more sweetness comes through as the finish starts to break down and develop. I find the finish improves as it changes in the mouth.

Quite a nice dram, though in this tasting less impressive than I remember. I wish for a bit more of a full-bodied nature in the body surrounding the smoke, and a touch more sweetness. However, still a nice introduction to the smoky Islay malts.

Recommended (81% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Average. It’s really not bad for a peated Islay, but not quite to the level you can get for the price in the broad whisky category in terms of depth and complexity.


Review: Bowmore Laimrig Aged 15 Years Single Malt Scotch Whisky by Jason Hambrey

ABV
54.1%
Aging
15 Years; Ex bourbon and oloroso sherry casks
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Bowmore (Bowmore, Scotland)

This was originally a batch-by-batch release, but now it is more general - a 15 year old, cask strength bowmore with some good sherry to it. If you follow my blog, you know I quite like a good cask strength peated whisky - this is no exception. However, I like this much more than the cask strength 10 year old Tempest...


Review (2016)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: L142175 9:36 118

  • Bottling Date: ~2014

A gorgeous nose right off the bat – rich and big, and still with a sweet creamy texture. Rich dried fruit, parmesan cheese, smoke, figs, fruitcake spices, saffron, anise, dried apple, vanilla, fresh grape, embers of a fire. Sundried tomato, minerality, candied orange peel...

The palate is peppery, with lots of dried fruit, fresh grape, beautiful spice, and a great mixture of smoke, tannin, and rancio on the finish. All sorts of fruit- raspberries, currants, plums – alongside currants and prunes and figs. The balance and integration is terrific. Fabulous dried fruit, saffron, smoke, charcoal, and nutty oils on the drying finish. Without water, it’s so big, and yet restrained – I can keep imagining this exploding in the mouth but it doesn’t quite, and instead invites me in. In other words, that just means that for me it’s just big and spicy enough without me having to add water. Very interesting with all the complexity in play, terrific profile, and takes you for a ride…my kind of malt.

I like it quite a bit more than its younger bourbon-casked counterpart Tempest. I also quite liked the 15 year old, sherried Bowmore Darkest…but this is better.

Very Highly Recommended (18% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher). This is close to the exceptional category - just awesome.

Value: High. 120$, but this is incredible in terms of flavour but also for an aged, cask strength, peated whisky that is very balanced.