Bowmore Mariner was a travel retail release and combines both ex-bourbon casks and sherry butts. It’s 15 years of age, bottled at 43% and you get a whole litre of it to play with. The marketing text spends some time playing up the sea-based aspects of Bowmore – and well, with a name like Mariner, this is to be expected. So let’s take a look just how salty and maritime this Bowmore really is.
Nose: Medium in intensity combining both sweet but gentle smoke with a healthy dose of coastal air and ozone. Freshening with both citrus and stone fruits such as apricot, and with a vein of sugariness running through the whole aroma. Part briny, part forest-like with notes of ferns and pines in amongst the more overtly seaside overtones of salt and very mild iodine.
Taste: On the one hand oily and on the other, almost strangely sandy and chalky. Odd. Again the salinity is very present and is backed up with an increased presence of fruit – on the one hand fresh and ripe and on the other sour – I want to say sour cherries, but that’s too neat a fit. Sweet again, this time from toffee and caramel. There’s a fairly huge dose of cask spice here which leads to quite a bitter and astringent experience.
Finish: Medium, salty, and pleasantly astringent, but to my palate extremely bitter, jarringly so in fact.
Bowmore Mariner is a mixed voyage. It delivers on the sea salt promised with a really nice bite appreciable across the nose, taste and finish. It likewise manages to merge smoky coastal notes with some pleasant fruitiness and sweetness. But, the cruise is not plain sailing and there’s some real bitterness to navigate through before weighing anchor.