After a week of Talisker let’s keep the focus on peat but shift south to another island: Islay.
Up first is a Bowmore 15, released for Feis Ile 2019 and put together from spirit matured in first-fill bourbon casks. In this it differs from the other Bowmores I’ve reviewed this year, which include one from refill sherry casks, a port finish, one from a mix of oloroso and PX casks, and another single refill sherry cask. Well, bourbon cask Bowmore is a particular favourite of mine and so I hope this is a good instance of that style. Let’s see.
Bowmore 15, Feis Ile 2019 (51.7%; first-fill bourbon casks; from a bottle split)
Nose: Takes a few beats to open up and then there’s the sweet Bowmore florals along with some passionfruit, some vanilla; mineral peat runs through it all. Brinier with each sniff. Not too much change after that. A few drops of water pull out some cream and turn the fruit more acidic.
Palate: Comes in here with lemon and then all the stuff from the nose follows. The fruit expands as it heads to the finish, picking up coal smoke as it goes. A very good drinking strength and texture. More fruit with air and time. Okay, let’s see what water does. It makes the peat more peppery, brings out some vanilla-cream and then the fruit expands again.
Finish: Long. The coal smoke and passionfruit are joined by a big hit of lemon and salt. The smoke and salt have the last word. As on the palate with water.
Comments: This is a lovely bourbon cask Bowmore. It has everything in it that you would hope to get from Bowmore: tropical fruit, florals, acid, mineral peat, coastal character. If I could be guaranteed a bottle as good as this for the price that was charged for it at the distillery in 2019 (£85) I might even go to Feis Ile.
Rating: 90 points.