Last month I reviewed a Bowmore 14, 1996 bottled by A.D. Rattray for BevMo. This is not that Bowmore 14, 1996. It is another one bottled at the same time but which for some reason does not show up on Whiskybase or have much of any other kind of trail online. I purchased a bottle in the Hollywood BevMo not too long after it was released and finished it not too long thereafter (before starting the blog). As per my spreadsheet I liked it a lot. Reviewing the other one reminded me of this one and the likelihood that I had saved a 6 oz reference sample of it—as used to be my practice back then with all bottles I owned.Sure enough, when I looked there it was. And here now is a formal review.
Bowmore 14, 1996 (59.1%; A.D. Rattray for BevMo; bourbon cask 960029; from a reference sample saved from my own bottle)
Nose: Lemon and salt crystals to the fore; behind them are some muskier fruit and the Bowmore floral complex. The smoke is more evident on the second sniff and the muskier fruit is out now (passionfruit); some cream too. The smoke is not particularly phenolic. More musky fruit-forward with time. With water the acid trumps the musky fruit and there’s a slight hint of cured pork (ham). As it sits again, sweeter notes emerge (vanilla, more of the cream).
Palate: Leads with the fruit and more of the smoke (ashy) than the nose would indicate. Very approachable at full strength (again, the age of the sample may have something to do with this). Turns peppery as I swallow. As on the nose, the fruit becomes more present with each sip and begins to get mixed with cream/custard. More and more coastal with time (brine, uni) and there’s more lemon too. Water ties everything together nicely and amplifies the fruit and pepper a little more.
Finish: Long. The ashy smoke and pepper hang out a good while. After a while the passionfruit begins to emerge again at the end. With more time the fruit takes centerstage on the finish as well. As on the palate with water.
Comments: This is very much in line with the other Rattray BevMo 14 yo cask but the balance here is much better and the fruit is more present. And there’s none of the glycerine or talcum that showed up in the other one with water. I had it at 88 points in my pre-blog spreadsheet but have to kick it into the next tier today. It may well be that almost seven years in a 6 oz sample bottle has improved it.
Rating: 90 points.