After a brief rum break, I am back on the bourbon cask single malt whisky trail. Previous stops have taken in the Speyside with a couple of Aberlours (here and here) and the Lowlands (this Bladnoch). Today I have a malt from Islay. This 10 yo Bowmore was distilled in 2003 and bottled in 2013 by the German outfit, Whisky-Fässle. I can’t remember if I’ve reviewed any of their Bowmore casks before but I have reviewed a couple of other bourbon cask Bowmores of similar age and vintage. See, for example, this 10 yo from 2002 bottled by van Wees, and this 11 yo, also from 2002, bottled by Exclusive Malts for K&L. I thought both of those were marred—to different degrees—by a soapy/glycerin note that sometimes pops up in bourbon cask Bowmore (and also in bourbon cask Ben Nevis). I am glad to report that it’s not an issue with this release. I opened the bottle a month and a half ago for one of my local group’s tastings and it went down a treat. I’ve been drinking it down steadily since. Here now is my review.
Bowmore 10, 2003 (50.2%; Whisky-fässle; bourbon hogshead; from my own bottle)
Nose: That very Bowmore-specific mix of lemon, pepper, melon and minerally peat. Sweeter with time and there’s more vanilla too. With more time still some of the Bowmore floral notes pop out as well (lavender). With a few drops of water there’s some citronella and its gets creamy and (fruit) custardy.
Palate: Leads with ashier smoke and then there’s most of the stuff from the nose—the lemon turning into lime peel. More peppery still on the second sip and there’s just a hint of something meaty. Nice texture too. With more time the lavender emerges here too. Peatier, less peppery and more integrated with water.
Finish: Long. The peppery peat lingers along with an indistinct fruity sweetness around the edges. The pepper intensifies here too with time. Sweeter peat with water.
Comments: A high quality bourbon cask Bowmore that makes as good a case as any for Bowmore’s character being the most distinctive of all in Scotland. Of course, for a puzzling number of people still, that character is a turn-off. More for the rest of us! Anyway, this bottle has lost a bit of oomph from when it was first opened but it’s still very good. A very nice progression with water too.
Rating: 87 points.