Bowmore. I’ve talked about this distillery before. Great town, a cafe serving the best black pudding known to humanity, a cute round kirk. A distillery that, when it’s not good (Bowmore Legend), makes me want to burn the whole town down.
On a whim, I picked up a bottle of the 12yo, and have been enjoying it quite a bit (will write it up at some point). Last year at Whisky Live I recall tasting the Small Batch, and liking it, but anyone can tell you, sometimes things get a little blurred at Whisky Live.
So, figuring I may have been remembering things right, I bought a bottle. It ticks all the boxes that would make a whisky snob run the other way (no age statement, 40% ABV, pobably chill filtered, probably with added colour, RRP <$70), but where’s the fun if not in winding up hipsters?
For the tasting, I’m even forgoing the Glencairn for a Bowmore promotional glass — it still tulips a little but could be considered a closer relative of the dreaded tumbler.
Colour: I don’t usually note a dram’s colour, given it could be because of anything really, but will make an exception here. The Small Batch is a beautiful golden colour, somewhere between straw and pathology sample, but I like it.
Nose: It’s Bowmore on the nose; a little smoke, some seaweed (but not too much), black pepper, vanilla, a little honey, maybe some toffee too.
Taste: It’s a little jumbled, lots of things going on, so it’s like malt-and-toffee-and-citrus-and-honey-and-vanilla-and-pepper. It’s good, if possibly a little sharp, and maybe lacking a little body.
Finish: Pleasant, if a little dry, and not exceptionally long. There’s a hint of smoke at the end, and possibly a bit of spice, ginger and maybe nutmeg. A wave of orange appears when I exhale, and is gone.
And with a drop of water…
Nose: maybe a hint of licorice? A little sweeter, maybe boiled sweets in the mix?
Taste: Did I only add a drop? It’s now more cohesive, but less going on. Malt, honey and a hint of spice, but not firing on all cylinders. It has lost the sharp edge though. Quite smooth.
Finish: A smooth and delicate hint of the sea, maybe in the dryness. The orange wave has gone.
And the official notes http://www.bowmore.com/whiskies/small-batch/ :
On the eye warm gold.
Breathe in vanilla fudge, sea air and peat smoke, balanced beautifully by honeycomb and cinnamon spice.
Sip mouth-watering citrus, gentle saltiness and vanilla with flakes of coconut.
Savour the wispy smoke, bourbon vanilla and lime finish.
I’m not spotting the coconut, but an impressed at how much I’m in agreement with the official notes. Maybe I’m getting the hang of this.
Overall it’s a good dram. Not as good as the 12yo, but not at all unpleasant. I’d go for skipping the water. A solid sipper.