Thanks to /u/xile_ for 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.
When buying independent bottlings of whisky, it’s good to understand the levels of what you’re buying. So we start with Morrison & MacKay. They are scotch whisky/wine merchants. Alright, steady start.
Then we have Càrn Mòr, which is one of their brands. Specifically, it’s the brand they use to release independent bottlings. Under said brand, we have the “Strictly Limited” name, which is the first level of limited releases. Then we have “Celebration of the Cask”, which is more limited and rarer. Also, all of these are cask strength. Finally, we have “Celebration of the Cask Black Gold”, which is specifically bottlings of the darkest sherry casks.
Thus when we’re talking about Bowmore 25 1991 Càrn Mòr Celebration Of The Cask Black Gold, we understand the plan here. It’s the top of Morrison & MacKay, specifically from the darkest sherry cask maturation, at cask strength.
Kinda impressive actually. Most brands have special names that typically denote only if it’s cask strength or not (maybe) and the general idea of the price. This does that and then some.
So let’s see how it tastes, shall we?
Price: N/A at the LCBO
Distillation Date: 02 Sep 1991
Bottling Date: 19 Sep 2016
Cask Type: Sherry butt
Outturn: 560 bottles
Colour: 5YR 2/6
Nose: Fresh raspberries, caramel, grapefruit, mesquite smoke, burning flowers
Initial sherry is evident beyond knowing the nomenclature. Nice fresh raspberry flavour. Good amount of acidity, some caramel, and the specifically the smoke here has a distinct mesquite angle to it.
Water brings out that Bowmore floral 90s note, however, it can’t get away from the smoke, giving a unique, odd burning floral note. Who knew being a melodramatic teen would help my whisky notes of the future.
Taste: Grapefruit, treacle, walnut, pesto, butter, strawberry, edamame
Acidic, like the nose. However the caramel is better developed, and there’s a keen herbal note as well as a nutty element here.
Water brings out strawberry and more vegetal/umami notes. It’s not easy to nail down, like trying to frame gelatin.
Finish: Mint, brown sugar, burnt orange, custard, thyme, buckwheat honey, portobello mushroom
Long. Very long. Different mixture of flavours here. The mint and orange mixed with smoke, vegetal herbal notes popping up, and even some earth elements from the sherry.
Conclusion: Weird. Wonderfully so, but may turn some people off. I’ve said before that unique aspects only bring you so far, yet this whisky seems to have heard me and much like some of my whisky friends, taken that as a challenge.
A smoke filled, acidic bomb that takes on the overtly floral Bowmore trope and makes it their own. There’s very little missing in this whisky. That’s a strength, however, well… some of these flavours just don’t go together! It’s the closest Bowmore has gotten to a Black Arts release from Bruichladdich, and if there’s more of this, they better be releasing it.
Scotch review #964, Islay review #261, Whisky Network review #1517