Monday, 4 May 2015

3.243 "Dark, smouldering flamenco gypsy" (17 year old Bowmore)

Distillery: Bowmore
Bottling: Scotch Malt Whisky Society
Age: 17
Strength: 57.1%.
Cask Code: 3.243 "Dark, smouldering flamenco gypsy"
Cask Type: Refill sherry butt.

I'm not much of a PR blogger, and I struggle to find time to update this blog with the dozens of tasting notes building up in my little book so I very rarely ever get sent free whisky and I never solicit it either so it was a nice surprise to receive a little package in the mail from the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, whom to be honest are probably my main source of whisky and I rarely have the need to go elsewhere. This is a sample of a special Bowmore bottling they have done for Feis Ile; that is the Islay music and whisky festival.

On Friday the 22nd of May which I know I know is technically the day before the festival starts but let's not split hairs), the SMWS are throwing a special extravaganza at Islay House. The most annoying part for me is that the general distillery offerings are pretty vanilla, and that is not saying bad, but just underwhelming for someone who knows a bit about it already, and this event would be right up my street but I won't be there for it. I rant and rave about the society and their whisky to anyone who can be bothered listening but if you can, get along to this event and check it out.

Nose: I rather like society Bowmores, and in particular the refill butt bottlings and they are becoming more of a staple purchase for me than the ever available and reliable Caol Ila! The strange thing is that I actually very rarely buy standard Bowmores out the shop so I wouldn't even class myself as a massive Bowmore fan, but yet in the context of great independent bottlings - I am. At the start this prickles my nose and is pretty closed up in the alcohol and I getting general sweetness and savouriness but nothing really discernible so I'm adding a little water to break this one open a little. I am getting teak oil / linseed oil which invokes images of polished floors and furniture in an old drawing room. Walnut whips, and roasted chestnut also lend similar notes of wood and oil. Cigarette smoke in an old man's pub (before the Scottish smoking ban of course). Fishermen's friend sweets and lavender oil which both increases the oil element but also that characteristic floral note which is in these Bowmores to varying degrees. The sherry brings some dark and overripe blackberries which brightens and livens up things which are dominated by the darker tobacco, oily, woody, leathery thing going on. Some malty biscuitness coming through as well which comes and goes in waves.

Palate: Autumn berries in a sticky jam. I get some mint chocolate, and liquorice dipped in sherbet. There is a slightly soapy, detergent element there but that's probably linked to the lavender, and you'll either love or hate it and it's certainly not as much as some other bottings anyway, but I'm the former; I quite like it.

Finish: Tobacco is back here alongside a steak that has been seared on a BBQ and slightly sooty and charcoaly. Not masses of peat coming through, but it's pretty briny. Getting a little touch of fried seaweed as well which is pleasant. 

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