Bowmore 16, 1996 (SMWS)


A Bowmore to close out the month. I took this sample of a 16 yo bottled by the SMWS with me to our trip to the North Shore in July. But my dreams of drinking it on the deck while listening to Lake Superior crash on the rocks in front of the cabin were dashed or rather punctured by the swarms of mosquitoes that made it all but impossible to be outside the cabin unless covered in deet. I did manage to taste it inside the cabin though. I might not have been able to hear Lake Superior (the screens on the windows sucked and so they had to be kept closed at all times) but I could at least see it. None of this has anything to do with Bowmore really, except that the distillery is also located by the side of a large body of cold water. Anyway, I’ve held on to these notes for a long time for no good reason. So, now that summer is well and truly done in Minnesota and even the mosquitoes are finally on the run, let’s get to it.

Bowmore 16, 1996 (60.6%; SMWS 3.199; bourbon hogshead; from a bottle split)

Nose: Clean, minerally peat with lemon, wax and then some fruit (hints of passionfruit, ripe nectarine). Gets creamier as it sits and the fruit expands but does not achieve exuberance. Water takes the lemon in the direction of citronella and emphasizes the cream: more fruit custardy than fruity now.

Palate: Comes in hot as expected but despite the high abv the fruit still registers. Some salt here too. On the second sip there’s some peppery peat and that expands as it sits even as the creamy note from the nose comes in. More peppery with water, quite a bit more peppery and there’s some ashy smoke too now. As it sits now the muskier fruit expands and merges with the pepper and smoke.

Finish: Medium. Not much happening here neat on the first sip. Let’s see if it opens up with more air, but this needs water for sure. Well, with time the fruit and cream come through here too. As on the palate with water.

Comments: At first I thought this was going to be great but, like 16 year old me, it did not achieve its full potential and, unlike me, settled into the territory of the very good. Water brought out more of the fruit and better balance and I can’t help but think that this might have been better diluted down to 55% or less to begin with.

Rating: 88 points.

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