Bowmore 17, 2004 (SMWS 3.339)

Let’s bring this series of reviews of Bowmore 17, 2004s bottled by the SMWS to a close. The three whiskies reviewed this week were from consecutively numbered casks, all filled on the same day in 2004 and matured in second-fill hogsheads. On Monday, I reviewed cask 3.337; on Wednesday, I reviewed cask 3.338. I liked both very much indeed; and liked 3.338 a bit more than 3.337. If you’re good at math like me, you’ll eventually figure out that today’s review is of cask 3.339. And you might also expect that I will like it a bit more than 3.338. But that’s now how whisky reviewing math works, fool! The SMWS’ tasting panel named this one “So wonderfully close, yet so wonderfully far”. This is, as far as I can make out, a reference to the whisky having conjured up visions of the Caribbean for them. I’ll be happy enough if it’s close enough to cask 3.331—which I reviewed last month, and which I liked the most so far of all these SMWS Bowmore 17, 2004s. Okay, let’s get to it.

Bowmore 17, 2004 (57.1%; SMWS 3.339; second-fill hogshead; from a bottle split)

Nose: Leads with lime (a mix of regular and Makrut) with some leafy smoke running through it. On the second sniff there’s some charred pineapple and just a hint of something sweeter (peach? passionfruit?). The musky fruit expands as it sits even as the smoke gets ashier; a touch of vanilla but it dissipates quickly. A few drops of water push the smoke back a bit and pull out wet stones. Then the sweeter fruit expands, bringing some custard with it.

Palate: Comes in with the musky fruit: pineapple, peach, passionfruit—all of them charred. Approachable at full strength with nice texture. More lime on the second sip. With time the lime recedes a bit and lets the other fruit out more fully. Okay, time for water. Hmmm water seems to re-emphasize the lime on the palate. Yes, definitely more acidic here with water, thought the wet stones that emerged on the nose are here as well.

Finish: Long. The passionfruit trumps the other fruit here, picking up pepper as it goes. More acidic here too with time but gets sweeter again at the end (maybe a bit too sweet).

Comments: Very reminiscent of 3.338, though without the bitter note that one had on the palate and finish. Like 3.338 and 3.337, though, it doesn’t exhibit the coastal notes I found in 3.331. And so even though I like it a bit more than 3.338, I can’t quite lift it into the next tier.

Rating: 89 points.




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