This is the recent NAS Bowmore—it was released a few years ago in the UK and Europe and only arrived much later in the US, as is not unusual. As per the distillery, it contains malt matured in first and second fill ex-bourbon casks and then married together. I can’t recall whether it replaces the Legend or if it’s just going to sit alongside it at the bottom of their price list. It’s hard to keep track of Bowmore these days: they seem to release a new whisky every other day for regular or travel retail. Like the Legend, this one is at 40% abv, which seems a little too low these days for even entry-level whisky. You’d think something with the words “small batch” slapped on the label would carry at least a bit more punch and be unchillfiltered. You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.
The Legend (which was my first review on the blog) is/was a drinkable, inoffensive whisky—what will this one be like?
Bowmore “Small Batch” (40%; from a sample from a friend)
Nose: A little hit of peppery, minerally peat right off the top along with a touch of the familiar Bowmore floral note. The floral note expands quickly—and picks up some melon to go with it—and so does the smoke. Some seashells too now and some vanilla/cream as well. A few drops of water knock back the floral note a bit and integrate everything nicely.
Palate: Very much as on the nose, with maybe more pepper and a little bit of ash; less floral and also less of the melon. The mouthfeel is a bit too thin. On the second and third sips the floral note arrives and expands; get sharper as it goes. With more time there’s some citrus as well (lime). A little more pepper still with water.
Finish: Medium. The pepper and the flowers and a bit of peat. Just slightly soapy at the end.
Comments: Well, I don’t know if this replaces the Legend but it should: it’s more Bowmore than that one is and generally has a lot more going on; it’s also more Islay than that one is, in terms of smoke/peat. Not a bad choice at all if you’re looking for a lightly smoky whisky that won’t lighten your bank balance too much or if you’re looking to find out if you might like the Bowmore profile without risking too much money.
Rating: 80 points.
Thanks to Patrick for the sample!