Bowmore 17, 2004 (SMWS 3.338)

Here is the second of three reviews this week os Bowmore 17, 2004s distilled on the same day, matured in second-fill hogsheads and bottled by the Scotch Malt Whisky Society. On Monday I reviewed cask 3.337; here now is cask 3.338. The Society’s panel dubbed it “Smoky ‘spice of the angels'”; spice of the angels is a fancy name for fennel pollen. I would have preferred “Smoky fruit of the tropics” but maybe I’ll get it anyway. Let’s see.

Bowmore 17, 2004 (57.6%; SMWS 3.338; second-fill hogshead; from a bottle split)

Nose: The smoke in this one is more ashy than mineral. There’s also more fruity and custardy notes here from the get-go: peach, a bit of passionfruit, blueberry. More fruit than smoke with time. Three drops of water bring out more of the custardy/creamy sweetness.

Palate: Comes in with lime and ashy smoke and then a passionfruit grenade goes off as I swallow. Very approachable at full strength; oily texture. The sweeter fruit pops out earlier with each sip but so does the bitter note from the finish. With more time still the lime expands. Okay, let’s see what water does for it. It pushes the smoke back further and merges the lime and sweeter fruit nicely.

Finish: Long. The fruit keeps going, picking up some pepper as it goes and then just a bit of bracing bitter oak at the end. More ash at the end with time. As on the palate at first with water but then there’s a bit of glycerin.

Comments: Fruitier than 3.337 from the get-go, and at first sip I thought it was going to sail past it; but the bitter note that shows up, first on the finish and then earlier on the palate just keeps it out of the next tier. Also very, very good, nonetheless.

Rating: 89 points.



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