Bowmore 12, 2001 (Signatory for K&L)

Bowmore 12, 2001, Signatory for K&L
Okay, let’s make it five whisky reviews in a row this week. This Bowmore was one of K&L’s 2014 selections (I think—I purchased it this summer at any rate). I opened it for one of my whisky group’s tastings at the end of the summer and then took it back to our November tasting. I liked it better the second time than I did the first—our group is now so large that I was one of only two people who were at both tastings and I forgot to ask the other person if his views had likewise shifted. I found it a bit too rough/sulphurous on the first go but those notes seemed to have receded with a couple of months of air in the bottle. It’s now been a few weeks since that second tasting and the bottle is almost empty, and so it should be mellower still.

(Michael K. reviewed this in the summer, by the way—he liked it more and didn’t pick up the rough notes I remark.)  
Bowmore 12, 2001 (59.1%; Signatory for K&L; refill sherry butt 1371; from my own bottle)

Nose: Mild sulphur (with some rubber), burning leaves and behind it all some of the quintessential Bowmore florals (not a whole lot though). With more time it’s more phenolic and pungent and also more coastal (brine and shells); more vanilla too now and also citrus (lime). Water gets rid of the sulphur completely and brings out the minerally quality more pronounced in bourbon cask Bowmore along with some muskier fruit.

Palate: Pretty much as indicated by the nose but less rubber and the sulphur less prominent. The smoke is ashier here. The sherry influence is mild—mostly seems to round everything else off. Very drinkable at full strength. The citrus expands as it goes on. With a lot of time there’s quite a lot of leafy smoke and the salt starts showing up earlier. Almost an hour later the citrus and vanilla are to the fore and pepper takes the place of the rougher sulphurous notes. Much better balance here too with water, with the fruit emphasized; a slight nutty quality now as well.

Finish: Long. Ashy smoke, vegetal peat and citrus. Salt developing late. With time there’s more fruit in the finish too. As on the palate with water: less emphasis on the smoke and peat and far better balance.

Comments: Closer to its south shore Islay brethren than most Bowmores usually are, and also more aggressively smoky than most Bowmores usually are. This bottle transformed a lot for me: I thought the sulphur was a bit too rough at first but it mellowed with time. Even now at the end of the bottle’s life it needs a lot of time (and water) to open up and calm down and reveal all its charms. Better with water I think.  Odd how I never got as much of the sherry notes from this bottle as Michael did—I re-tasted it after reading his notes and still no dice (and not as much fruit either).

Rating: 87 points.

7 thoughts on “Bowmore 12, 2001 (Signatory for K&L)

    • Then there’s that gentleman from Dallas (who may be reading this?) who complained that this whisky was too Cherry Kool-Aid sweet for him. Too much sweet sherry, not enough peat, etc. I think my opinion lies somewhere in between.

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  1. I’ve noticed some other indie Bowmores that have been much more aggressively smoky than any of the OBs. It makes me wonder if they sold off a parcel of casks that were deemed to be too far from the house style.

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    • As long as those casks get to the indies rather than getting blended out, I’ll be very happy. Though the Tempests, though I haven’t had one in a couple years, tend to kick a little more peat than the rest of the range. Or maybe that’s high ABV.

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  2. It’s not sulphur you’re tasting, MAO, it’s a bitter note mid-palate.
    That comes from paying $80 for the bottle instead of $60 like the rest of us.

    I thoroughly enjoyed this whisky in all its grungy glory. It’s certainly not a sherry monster, like that AD Rattray 20yo Bowmore, but the sherry is clearly there – eclipsed, perhaps, by the peat. While not a textbook Bowmore, the signature mineral and floral notes are there. (I’m not saying anything you didn’t already.) Complex and easy drinking at the same time. I rated it 88, right in between you and Michael.

    I haven’t had a drop of it since finishing my bottle 6 months ago, but the memory of the experience is very vivid. I want to say that I’ll open another one soon, but instead my Christmas present is going to be the Hepburn’s Choice Bowmore from K&L. Very different but equally addictive!

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