Whisky Review – Bowmore 15 year old Darkest

Bowmore 15 year old Darkest
Sherry Finished Islay Malt
43% ABV
£46.17 from MasterofMalt

Nose.

Bonfires! Dark fruits. Raisins, sultanas. Sherry influence is prominent on the nose, the smoky peat bonfires are on the backburner(!). But they are there and a very pleasant addition they are! A little time in the glass though and they switch places with the bonfires coming forward and the fruit being scorched in the embers. It keeps changing. Very intriguing. Definitely some coffee in the mix. More time in the glass and the sherried fruit is dominant again. It’s a switcheroo of a dram!

Palate.

Quite a bit of sweet fruit, raisins, sultanas are here up front and not a lot of Islay, not a bad thing as I will conclude. But if your a smoke head then this may be a little disappointing. The development goes onto a little pepper, more chewy coffee with the fruit. A little chocolate pops up and a little peaty earthiness and damp burning leaves.

Finish.

Quite long. Damp grass. The peat earthiness is there all along. Some fruit stays for a little while. But peat and smoke of the bonfire variety lingers.

Adding water.

Not putting a lot in. The nose is more about the fruit and sherried malt now. Bonfires in the background again. The nose is lighter and more pleasant to smell with the addition of water. Lighter fruits are coming about as well. Some orange and citrus added to the mix. The palate has lost a little in the way of mouthfeel (understandable), but the tastes are easier to enjoy with the citrus notes joining in the enhanced fruity taste mix. The finish is much the same, long with fruity smoke piles. It’s worth a small drop of water in this one, though it does make the dram go down very very easily!

Conclusion.

I think this is a very pleasant. Easy, yet complex dram. A very good introducer to someone who likes sherried/speyside whiskies or a beginner, who hasn’t experienced Islay yet. It’s not one of the big Islay experiences, but its a nice introduction and definitely a nice variation for someone like me who is a bit of a sherry head wanting an alternative experience.

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Bowmore Tempest batch 2 vs. batch 3 comparison review.

    Bowmore Tempest batch 2 vs. batch 3 comparison review.

I’ve not tried many Bowmore’s in my relatively short Whisky journey up to date. Tonight is a change for that. I’ve heard many a good thing about the Bowmore tempest and always wondered if there was ever much a difference between batch releases of many whiskies. So it’s a little bit of an experiment on a couple of levels for me. How different are the batches? And what is this Bowmore expression like anyway?

Bowmore Tempest batch 2
10 years old – first fill bourbon cask
56%

£44.95 at Master of Malt (currently with free sample of batch 3)

Colour

Gold. (Ah hem. Ok. Already slightly miffed. Why go to the bother of cask strength/craft presentation and then add colouring – the back of the tube confirms the addition of E150a in German).

Nose

Bursting with smoke and layers of fruit. Smoke dominates. Vanilla. Some muted citrus. Wood spices. With time in the glass the smokiness tones down a little. More bonfire than medicinal. Grass starts coming forward the longer it stands. More time stood. Less smoke. Now there is buttery popcorn and creamy vanilla.

Palate

Fruity. Oranges and sweet lemons. Vanilla. More savoury than sweet. Mouth coating (more than b3).

Finish

Long. Fruit sticks in there. Not as dry as b3. Gets dryer later in the finish. Something else sticks around. Wood/sawdust?

Adding water

A few drops into my dram. Fruity vanilla custard creams. A little bonfire in the background. Palate is still rich and sublime. Finish has a little more peaty grass twang to it. Vanilla custard right at the end. Less wood.

Bowmore Tempest batch 3
10 years old – first fill bourbon cask
55.6%

£44.95 at Master of Malt (currently with free sample of batch 2)

Colour

Amber+ (oooo. Learn and adapt. Good stuff)

Nose

Lemons on a fire. Citrus fruit dominates. Some bonfire smoke there but fruit is the order of the day for this one. With time in the glass more medicinal peat notes are apparent. Still citrus ruling. Some crime brûlée and toffee is jumping around now. Keeps changing! Little more time. Citrus still rules. Very little smokiness. Some grass. Creamier and settled.

Palate

Creamy lemon rind. Peat heat. Quite sweet. Rich. Fulfilling mouth. Honey and toffee.

Finish

Long. Grassy. Drying. Wood chips.

Adding water

A few drops into my dram. A little more bonfire. A little less citrus. On the tongue it’s sweeter and has a lot more of a undiluted batch 2 about it! Finish is similar. Less grass notes. But the same drying woodiness.

Comparison

Well. I’m surprised and not. It’s a strange one. I was expecting little differences. And I got little differences. I think the biggest surprise was with Bowmore generally. I don’t know why. But I was thinking they would be smokier and harder work. But they are both excellent drams. Well matured. And so damn interesting.

My personal favourite (I am surprised being so critical of colouring. But it goes to show maybe it isn’t always all that!) is batch 2. I think that’s mainly a flavour thing for me as it is much richer and rewarding to me to explore. Batch 3 seems a little too much sour then sweet for my taste buds. But I’m sure some will think the complete opposite! 🙂

Conclusion

Having never really experienced Bowmore before I’m not sure if its normally a smoke monster or more of a subtle smokey whisky. These are definitely not smoke monsters in my opinion. They are exceptionally interesting drams though. Complex as hell and both quite different and can be spent a lot of time and patience with. Not ones to just drink. There is far too much to explore here. Quite a phenomena.

With batch 4 just around the corner I’m very interested to see how this dram evolves.

Samples purchased from Master of Malt

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Elements of Islay – BW1

Elements of Islay. Bw1.
50cl – £54.95 approx.
52.9%

Nose

All of those familiar Islay notes are there. Hot peat, medicinal TCP. Soaking tarred ropes. Seashores. But then there’s the fruit lingering. Rich dark fruits. Sumptuously sitting. Waiting.

Palate

Woh! It’s hot. It burns. But it’s a nice burn! The sherried raisins and plump plumminess glows on first tasting. Then the sweet peat and grassy hay notes float in for a session.

Finish

It’s a long one! Drying. Fruity sherry ridden grass. I need more

Adding water?

Adding a drop of water softens the heat, but also softens the aromas, actually quite limiting the fruity elements. The nose becomes more traditionally Islay. On the palate it’s not as developing in the mouth with more of a merger of the fruit and grass/hay/peat. Before water it developed in the mouth very evidently. The finish, grassier with water.

Personal opinion. I preferred it with no water added.

Conclusion

Quite a luxurious and sumptuous dram. It’s one that you have to sigh out wheb nosing and accept the warmth to the core on tasting.

Soul enriching.

Bottle obtained from thewhiskyexchange.com

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