Last month I reviewed the Bowmore 15 “Golden & Elegant”, one of the three age-stated whiskies that make up Bowmore’s recent’ish revamp of their travel-retail line (I guess given how many of the whiskies sold in airports cost more there than they do on the high street the companies feel self-conscious about using the term “duty free”). This 10 yo is the youngest in the line. The name “Dark & Intense”—I assume they named it after me—indicates the different composition of this release. Where the “Golden & Elegant” is a vatting of first-fill bourbon casks, this is a vatting of Spanish oak sherry casks. In theory that should be very good news. Bowmore from sherry casks can be very good indeed and I’ve had some very nice intensely sherried ones of this general age—see this 11yo and this slightly older 13 yo; the official Devil’s Casks 1st Ed. and 2nd Ed.—both also 10 year olds—were pretty good too. Unlike those, or even the Golden & Elegant, however, this is only at 40%. Will it be as good as its 15 yo sibling? Let’s see.
Bowmore 10, Dark & Intense (40%; from a sample from a friend)
Nose: Fruit to start (orange, apricot) and that familiar floral note. Some struck matches too and an increasingly dirty quality. Gets more peppery as it sits and also turns into a bit of an unintegrated hodgepodge of aromas. Water pushes the sulphur back and pulls out more orange
Palate: It’s very thin, is my first impression, both in texture and flavour. After that I catch a glimpse of the classic Bowmore florals before the rougher notes show up here as well. With time the florals get more pronounced but the sulphur is still a bit too rough. With more time and air, the sulphur dissipates but is replaced by bitter oak. Water washes out everything but the bitter oak.
Finish: Medium. The smoke is strongest here but the pepper and the oak have the last word. As on the palate with water.
Comments: This is drinkable enough, on the whole (but hold the water), but it’s a bit all over the place. A higher strength would have helped the texture but would probably also have amplified the sulphur and the oak. £45 for a liter is probably not too bad a price for a 10 yo in this market in the abstract but I won’t be looking for one on my next trip through an international airport. For less than £10 more the 15 yo is much better.
Rating: 76 points.
Thanks again to Daniel for the sample!