Bowmore 17 Cadenhead Single Cask

Thanks to /u/devoz for sharing this dram

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Pepperoni tastes good on chocolate chip cookies.

But enough of my high school eating habits. We’re here to discuss Bowmore. And for that I have a less controversial opinion: Bowmore is tasty when not bottled by Bowmore. Why? Well… capitalism. But let me explain.

When you make something, there’s pluses and minuses. Think of your favourite food place: You either enjoy it because it’s unhealthy (and thus delicious), it’s fast (possibly not as tasty as it could be), or it’s really good (and thus may cost more).

Whisky is no different. If I make one that blends well with others, but isn’t as good by itself, you have a whisky that goes into blends. A whisky that works at a young age? You’ll have trouble asking for more money at greater ages. A whisky that works at cask strength, or a specific cask type? Less ability to sell at lower strength or to experiment.

That last point is for Bowmore. Cask Strength Bowmore is very tasty, so much so it requires incorrect grammatical use of capitals. Bowmore makes money from people enjoying peated whisky at a young age and at a lower strength. Thus we end up with lackluster releases in order to keep up the company revenue/profit requirements.

So when something like Bowmore 17 Cadenhead Single Cask comes along, there’s a mixed reaction. Bowmore? I don’t like that. But Bowmore at CS, independently bottled? Gimme.

So let’s see if this holds up to that idea, shall we?

Price: € 140

Region: Islay

Vintage: 2002

Bottled: 2019

Cask Type: Bourbon Hogshead

No. of bottles: 294

Abv: 53.6%

Colour: 7.5Y 9/4

Nose: Butterscotch, nori, cardamom caramel, gingerbread, milk chocolate Huge nose. Lovely velvety caramel, well developed vegetal/brine, good spice that blends with the caramel, and eventually it takes over to give you dessert in two ways.

I’m a fan, in other words. Spice and rich sweets with a brine undertone that doesn’t get too over the top.

Taste: Cardamom, mint chocolate, violets, brine/mineral

More orange/spice, more chocolate, and then floral? Weird, usually it’s only 80s Bowmores (I think) that have that aspect. I went looking to see if there was a revival but I didn’t see one.

The brine is less complex here, though still a nice balance to the sweet aspects.

Finish: Golden syrup, brine, peat, apricot, wheat, lime

Weird again. If the taste and nose were these complex feasts, the finish is realizing you can’t bake and just throwing all the ingredients in a pot.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s a tangy, peaty, brine with sweet fun time going here, they just haven’t had any development in the cask.

Conclusion: Basically this is two thirds of an amazing dram with just an okay finish. Which really these days I’ll take as a change over the okay or lacklustre drams that can be out there.

It does fulfill my original comment: Independently bottled Bowmores are a game changer. No longer do you have the safe, simple drams of the OBs. Heck, these are closer to the cask strength whiskies they used to bring out that are auction fodder now.

If you like sweets, this is your jam. If you like cardamom, this is your jam. Heck if you like good peated whisky, get this jam on your toast.

85/100

Scotch review #1354, Islay review #369, Whisky Network review #2027

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