Bowmore 17, 2004 (SMWS 3.337)

Back in the end of March I reviewed a Bowmore 17, 2004 bottled by the Scotch Malt Whisky Society. It was full of everything that is typical of the best of modern-era bourbon cask Bowmore: coastal notes, mineral peat, lots of fruit (acidic, sweet, tropical). Not surprisingly, I really liked it. I noted at the time that the SMWS had released a fair number of casks of Bowmore 17, 2004, all of which were distilled on the same day and, like the one I reviewed in March, matured in second-fill bourbon hogsheads. I also noted at the end of that review that I had samples from three more casks in that sequence. This week I’ll be posting reviews of that trio.

First up is cask 3.337 (my previous review was of cask 3.331). With unusual restraint, the Society’s tasting panel gave it the relatively sober name of “Pure Timelessness”. Let’s see if it lives up to the expectations set by 3.331.

Bowmore 17, 2004 (57.4%; SMWS 3.337; 2nd fill hogshead; from a bottle split)

Nose: Leads with lime; not very much sign of peat or smoke at first. As it sits, pepper, salt and mineral peat begin to make themselves known; the lime is joined by grapefruit. Sweeter with more time with custardy notes—both vanilla and fruit (peach); more smoke too and more salt. A few drops of water pull put more of the peach and also more vanilla.

Palate: Comes in with a mix of salt, lime and peppery, sooty smoke, and then the fruit begins to uncoil as I swallow. A bit hot but approachable; rich texture. Peach, lime and grapefruit pop out earlier on subsequent sips, with the custard (smoked custard?). Gets just a bit soapy with time. Okay, let’s see what water does. Yes, it pushes the soap/glycerine back, amps up the fruit, and brings out more mineral peat here as well.

Finish: Long. The salt and the citrus are emphasized here with some wet stones emerging at the end. Develops as on the palate with time and water.

Comments: Despite a slightly lower abv, this took longer to open up than 3.331 had. Once it opened up, it was very close to that one but, neat, it’s just missing a bit of fruity oomph. Water brings it closer to the sibling cask but the fruit is still more in the sweet than musky/tropical end of the spectrum. Very, very good though.

Rating: 89 points.



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