Thanks to /u/twiddleDD for this sample
This is a continuation of my ongoing series that I’m calling “Scotch Malts, Wife’s Selection”, in which my wife goes through my backlog of SMWS (Scotch Malt Whisky Society) samples that I haven’t reviewed yet, pours them blind, and then I review it blind.
Islay? Sure. Bowmore? Well… I don’t know.
Awhile ago Bowmore brought out Tempest, Laimrig, and Devil’s cask. And some of those have been discontinued since then, sadly. I did enjoy each of those, and a selection of them made it onto best of lists.
Instead we’ve seen more and more non-cask strength versions of Bowmores over the years. And I completely understand that something being cask strength means you’re selling a stronger, more expensive dram to a niche group. I’m part of that niche group.
Thus I both feel bad about these going away and yet understand it, all while whinging about how I don’t get the amazing thing I truly enjoy. See also: The LCBO still being a thing that exists.
So when I get a chance to have a cask strength Bowmore, I’ve learned to take advantage of it, as it’s a special occasion. Bowmore SMWS 3.270 “Surf n turf in a camel’s saddle bag” is one such occasion.
So let’s see how it tastes, shall we?
Price: Sold out
Date Distilled: September 1997
Age: 18 years
Cask Type: Refill sherry butt
Colour: 7.5YR 4/8
Nose: Peat, pine, a caramel creme brûlée (if such an abomination will ever exist), brine
Heavy caramel flavours. Tons and tons of caramel flavours. The caramel truck came by, brought friends, and dumped it all over the city of caramel. And it’s driven by a hard working woman named Caramel. And she does such a great job, she drops off extra caramel.
Other than the caramel (did I mention there was caramel?) there’s some peat and pine elements. Does not smell eighteen years old at all.
Taste: Caramel sauce, lemongrass, mango, lilac flowers/moss, Mojito
More caramel! However now it balanced out with more of a tropical, citrus, and floral sort of dram. It’s relaxing a lot more.
So is this what’s in a camel’s saddle bag? I’m asking because I live in a country with no camel’s that deliver.
When will we ever truly be free (that’s a joke).
Finish: Buttered whole wheat (some Canadians may even call it “brown”) bread, Bison grass, pineapple, brine
Long finish. Big, long finish. Has a lot of well developed cooked cereal, some nice grassy notes, and even that tropical fruit from the taste, with brine from the finish.
It’s a simple, though interesting finish.
Conclusion: This is a subtle, interesting malt that goes in about 4 different directions at once. The nose really is a lot of caramel and cream, with extra caramel. And some caramel topping.
The taste goes on a floral, interesting path. I’ve heard that the main flavour profile of older Bowmores can be different from the current one, and perhaps this is that? Or maybe that’s from an interesting sherry cask.
Finally we have a big, tasty finish to wrap it up. Is this amazing? No, however it’s solid and unique. And worth your time having.
Guess: Ardmore as my first guess, Bowmore as my second. Do those count? Who knows!
Actually: Bowmore SMWS 3.270 “Surf n turf in a camel’s saddle bag”
Scotch review #813, Islay review #194, Whisky Network review #1324