Bowmore Dawn & Bowmore Dusk

Went to Feather’s Pub, however there was only a little bit of time, since my wife was doing adult things (Pokemon Go hunting).

Every so often people message me and ask me if I’ve tried a specific whisky. These situations are actually quite funny, because due to the nature of whisky, the question is one of the following:

  1. “Hey, TOModera, have you had this standard malt that is so available that it somehow made it past the Eastern block levels of walls that the LCBO has?” Well, I’ve reviewed over 1000… so yeah.
  2. “Hey, TOModera, have you had this super rare independent bottling that was only ever made for 6 people?” Uh… I wish I could but… shit man, I’m good, but not that good.

Suffice to say, my local whisky friends have honed their abilities to ask me about this. They typically ask number 1, or ask number 2 only if they know it’s available at a bar or they own it.

And thus, they get better answers. I can point them towards a whisky, or they can badger ask me to try another one and see how I like it.

That’s why, when I had limited time, I decided to try Bowmore Dawn and Bowmore Dusk. Now as I’ve said before, I typically enjoy Bowmore at cask strength. I think they are one of the unfortunate companies that ended up with a malt that tastes it’s best at cask strength, and doesn’t really work at 40-46%.

Suffice to say, I didn’t know anything about these drams. I just knew some of my friends were recommending a Bowmore. To me. And they don’t know me well enough to take the piss out of me this much.

Luckily, I was correct, and they knew this. Each of these are OB distillery bottlings, meaning you can typically only get them from auctions, various websites, and, oh yeah, going to Scotland and buying from the distillery, whatever those are.

So what are these? Well they are NAS high strength versions of their whisky that have been finished in wine casks. Specifically Port, for Dawn, and Claret/Burgundy Red Wine casks for Dusk. Which is telling of the drinking habits of the creators at Bowmore. I gotta start partying with them.

So let’s see how these taste, shall we?

bowmore dawn 2.jpg

Bowmore Dawn

Price: N/A in Canada

Region: Islay

Cask Type: Port Finish

Abv: 51.5%

bowmore dawn 1.jpg

Colour: 10R 5/8

Nose: Watermelon, smoke, cinnamon raisin bread, floral, strawberry, caramel apple, cumin

It’s a sad moment when you can’t be surprised anymore. And this nose actually surprised me.

Nice amount of interesting notes. It’s lighter than other port casks I’ve had. Where as port cask whiskies usually have more plum notes, it was nice to have more of the strawberry and watermelon notes.

Taste: Strawberry/watermelon, grilled beef, cinnamon, lemon fizzy, almond

Again, lighter taste, which I was hoping would eventually be stronger. It does give you some meat flavours that the smoke gives you grill flavours.

So I guess the lighter side is a double edged sword. While it’s certainly interesting on the nose, I want a little bit more on the taste.

Finish: Brine, celeriac, candied lemon peel, anise, watermelon rind, smoke

Finish is very earth centric. I think if you’re looking for a big amount of port, the finish will let you down. At this point it’s pure Bowmore malt here, but at cask strength so you can still taste the different parts in ways that show the best side of Bowmore.

Would have liked a little bit more Port influence here now.

Conclusion: So again, I think this is an odd dram. They gave it a light port influence. Which lead to a really nice nose, an interesting taste, but issues. This certainly is better than standard Bowmores on the market. It’s certainly a high strength Bowmore that you should have. It’s certainly a different way of doing port cask.

However the taste needs a little bit more and the finish needed more of the cask strength. I still like it, but it’s an earth bomb and may not be everyone’s thing. I think it should be something you should try if you ever have the chance.


bowmore dusk 2.jpg

Bowmore Dusk

Price: N/A in Canada

Region: Islay

Cask Type: Claret Casks

Abv: 50%

bowmore dusk 1.jpg

Colour: 10R 6/8

Nose: Toffee, papaya, burnt pine, strawberry, floral, BBQ sauce

If I smelled this once, and had to make up my mind, I’d be a horrible reviewer. Or at least a worse one than I am now.

I would also state there’s no finish. Then we’d wait a few seconds and prove me wrong. It’s somewhere between a port cask (not the one above though) and a sherry cask. It’s lighter than sherry, but still gives you the spice boost.

The burnt pine note is off-putting. Almost gives it a young note. Granted I don’t know the age of this, so that’s all a wash.

Taste: Cumin, mushroom soup, thyme, green apple, plum

If the finish of Dawn was an earth bomb, Dusk takes that baton and run with it on the taste. Creamy notes mix with the earth and herbal notes.

The wine adds some fruit, and like that one guy who tells you he doesn’t have to wear deodorant because it’s unnatural, it’s not welcome at the moment.

Finish: Mushroom, butter, smoke, caramel, curry powder, raisin, hot

Earthy and hot. Not really working that well. Lots of earth, heat, and then some raisin. Doesn’t do the rest of the dram justice, sadly. I think it overdoes the mushroom, no cream, and again, the fruit needs to get some goddamn pit stick going.

Seriously Greg!

Conclusion: The nose was probably my favourite part, of the whole thing, however based on this, I wouldn’t be buying Claret casks for Bowmore. Or rather, I’d be tweaking this dram. There’s aspects that are good, but it does too much earth, odd pairing of food, and hot at the end.

It needs more time in the cask, end of the day.


Scotch reviews #614-615, Islay reviews #143-144, Whisky Network reviews #1024-1025

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