Hello, the blog is seven years old today. As per Sku, I have three more years before I have to shut it down. Though, truth be told, I’m having some trouble right now mustering enough enthusiasm to keep it going through the isolation/quarantine—and judging by readership numbers very few of you are currently enthusiastic enough to show up to read this shortly after it posts. But an anniversary is an anniversary.
My very first review was of a Bowmore—the lowly Bowmore Legend of years past—and since then I’ve marked every anniversary with a Bowmore review. What can i say? I’m notoriously sentimental. I am feeling particularly sentimental today as this is the fourth of five reviews of bottles I opened during my 50th birthday week that mark significant years of my life (see here, here and here). This Bowmore was distilled in 2001, the year I met my partner. We’re currently 19 years in but this is only an 11 yo.
Bowmore 11, 2001 (53.6%; Maltbarn; sherry butt; from my own bottle)
Nose: Big coastal notes (shells, uni, kelp, brine) off the top with ashy smoke, lemon, makrut lime peel and passionfruit rising up from below. A master-class in how to be Bowmore. The sherry is very restrained. Some sweeter notes as it sits (custard, cream). Water softens it further but also pulls out more acid—that’s a contradiction, isn’t it?
Palate: Ah, so good. Mineral peat, lemon, ash, oyster liquor, brine, kelp, hints of passionfruit, the Bowmore florals: it’s all here and in perfect balance. No obtrusive sherry here either. The ash expands with each sip but so does the passionfruit. Creamier here too with time. Okay, let’s add some water. A few drops of water and there’s more cream, more ash, more passionfruit
Finish: Long. All the stuff from the palate eases slowly into ash and salt, a lot of salt. Some white pepper at the end. With water the ash turns to tar at the end.
Comments: Just excellent. When Bowmore is this good there is, in my view, no malt from any other contemporary distillery that can compare for the combination of excellence and sheer idiosyncratic character. Are there sibling casks waiting to be bottled in 2021? I hope so (though I probably won’t be able to afford any of them).
Rating: 91 points.