Thanks to the Toronto Whisky Society for supplying this sample.
Turns out I had quite a few samples of Bowmore. My stores are now so full I can’t fit any Bow-More of them. Thus that’s what I’m calling this string of reviews.
We’re seeing a time when using different casks is hitting its maturity. Some whisky nerds are about done with new and different casks. Frankly, I don’t blame them. When you’re the one buying the experiment, finding out that the new red wine cask du jour needs work and doesn’t 100% work with this distillery or whatever, you’re going to have a bad taste in your mouth.
It’s not done for any infamous reasons, either. Whiskies were tested in casks, and according to the tastes of some people, they ended up with something. Now they have to release it.
Thus when Bowmore announced the Vintner’s Trilogy, I didn’t know what to think. Red wine casks can be temperamental. When it turns out that one of them was using a sherry cask that we don’t hear too much about (either because it’s not called out or they aren’t able to be sourced as much), Manzanilla, I was even more interested.
Thus we have Bowmore 18 Manzanilla – The Vintner’s Trilogy, a whisky that’s been aged in ex-Bourbon casks and ex-Manzanilla Sherry Casks.
What is Manzanilla sherry? Well, it’s a type of fino sherry made in the province of Cadiz that has flavours of chamomile tea, thus taking its name from it.
But how does it work with Bowmore? Or whisky in general? We’ll have to taste it to see.
Price: Not currently available at the LCBO
Cask Type: Manzanilla Sherry Cask and ex-Bourbon casks
Colour: 2.5Y 7/10
Nose: Cherry, violets, plums, butter/pretzel, orange
Floral and cherry at first. Not cherry blossoms though, more so the cherry is strong, and then you get that “smell that could be purple” note of violets and plums.
Water brings out a salted butter element that I’m loving, and takes the plums and gives you back oranges, as is the correct way to trade fruit.
Taste: Anise, mango, caramel, ash, almond milk
Spice excites you at first, giving you some of the tropical fruit versus the previous homegrown plums (unless you’re reading this in the Carribean, then just swap those ideas).
More caramel and the slight peat is ashy here, closer to what we get from Caol Ila typically. Water makes it really nutty and creamy, which is certainly going in a new direction (for the whisky, not me).
Finish: Nectarine, ash, apricot, buttermilk, mint
Nice mixture of the nose’s idea of stone fruit and the taste’s ash and tropical fruit, it’s getting a little lighter and simpler in the finish.
Again some creaminess with water. Water really helps it tied itself together, though it’s more acidic and reminiscent of that great buttery note from before.
Conclusion: Water makes it really creamy. Frankly, I think water really propels this from a confused dram to a copacetic one. The nose is my favourite part, showing off butter and good floral balance from the yesteryear of Bowmore. The taste tries something with anise and ash that’s a little harsh. Though again water brings it together with that creamy aspect.
Finally, you have a finish that’s a bit too simple, with the buttermilk aspect saving it. So if you like a creamy dram and good amounts of floral, this is up your alley. All I can say is add water to tie it all together.
Scotch review #961, Islay review #259, Whisky Network review #1514