A second whisky review this week as today is the fourth anniversary of this blog going live, and I’ve always marked the anniversaries with a review of a Bowmore. My very first review was of the (then) entry-level Bowmore Legend. On March 24, 2014 I reviewed the official 12 yo, in 2015 the official 18 yo, and in 2016 another official release, the Prestonfield House Malt. This year I have an indie Bowmore. This is from Douglas Laing’s Old Malt Cask line and was bottled before the Laing business split, I think. It is from a sherry butt. There are actually two sherry butt OMC Bowmore 11s from 2000 released in November 2011 (as per Whiskybase). While the label on my sample bottle does not specify, I am pretty sure this is from Cask DL 7791; this because the source of my sample is listed as one of the raters for this cask on Whiskybase but not for the other—Jerome, if you’re reading, can you confirm? Well, whichever cask it is, let’s see what this is like.
Bowmore 11, 2000 (50%; Douglas Laing OMC; sherry butt; from a sample received in a swap)
Nose: Tar (like actual hot tar from a just-tarred road). Sweeter, sherried notes below that: raisins, orange peel; some barbecued meat and dry smoke too. With time the tarry note gets inkier and there’s some pencil lead in there too. With more time it gets more floral here too. Water pushes the smoke back and pulls out more of the flowers and fruit.
Palate: Leads with sweet, meaty smoke and there’s an explosion of the trademark Bowmore florals as I swallow. The smoke is denser on the second and third sip and the meat is more charred. Perfect drinking strength. Earthier with some time and air and there’s a bit of lime too now and something a bit fruit custardy (with some vanilla). With a lot more time it gets fruitier (peach). Water takes it further along that road, as it gets quite floral indeed.
Finish: Medium-long. The char and the floral notes ease out together. With time there’s just a tiny, tiny hint of glycerine but it’s hardly worth remarking. As on the palate with water (the smoke is now well in the background).
Comments: This is really quite lovely, though people who don’t care for Bowmore’s floral quality will likely not agree—this may also explain its Whiskybase score. Not much complexity or development and that’s my only knock against it (and not much of a knock, considering it’s only 11 years old).
Rating: 88 points.
Thanks to Jerome for the sample!