ABV: 47.6% Distillery: Bowmore Bottler: That Boutique-y Whisky Company Region: Islay
Door Number 18 of the 2018 Boutique-y Advent calendar delivers Boutique-y’s fifth batch of Bowmore - both their oldest and their smallest – 27 years of maturation with a mere 285 bottles. Clocking in at 47.6% ABV, this will set you back a mighty £342.95 from Master of Malt – way more than my bottle budget (particularly for a 50cl), but such is the price of any and all well-aged Islay whisky nowadays. Thank heavens for Advent calendars and the opportunities they bring to enjoy such treats during the Christmas period.
This Bowmore was released earlier in 2018, making its ‘time of birth’ around 1991 – potentially of significance as it comes from a period before the purchase of the distillery by Suntory in 1994 which brought about several changes in production. In my experiences to date, that’s around the time that FWP (French whore perfume) started to pervade Bowmore bottlings – especially the distillery’s OBs. You’ll know one when you’ve tried it – it brings a strange (IMO rather obnoxious) soapiness that doesn’t rightfully belong in any whisky whatsoever. But, I believe that 1991 should pre-date any of this Daz washing powder rubbish, indeed, there’s been a range of very high quality well-aged Bowmore’s from this period released over the last few years – let’s hope this is one of those.
Nose: Defined coastalness with brine, wet limestone, olive oil cake and breezy delicate smoke. Well-aged with background polish notes and a tartness and sharpness that increases over time, emphasising lemon peels, gooseberries, minerality and salinity. Reduction adds sour sweetness into the equation with Key Lime pie whilst also highlighting the peat influence further with some ashiness. Resting post dilution seems to be ‘thing’ also – a building umami meatiness develops with ham stock, and burnt ends. The very definition of complexity.
Taste: The arrival has an oily viscosity as well as plenty of fruity character – sweet/sour – lemons, grapefruits and guava. Polish and wood varnish follow next, leading into a drum of fresh golden tobacco leaves. The mid-palate is more overtly maritime, with brine, pebbles and wet steel piers played off against vegetal flavours of moss, lichen and bracken. Long on the development, the back-palate introduces smoke – burnt meat fats, hospital floor cleaner, a faint tinge of rubber types and a good whack of salinity. The addition of water amplifies the coastalness with salt water, whilst also unleashing more peat elements – iodine and smoked fish. Resting brings out a medley of seafood with lobster and buttered scallops. Further resting introduces a lovely tropical note of pineapple, which marries perfectly into the intricate array of swirling and shifting flavours. A truly polygonal whisky.
Finish: Long, tart with lemon zest, sweet with foam bananas, sharp with rocky outcroppings.
Boutique-y’s fifth batch from Bowmore is a triumph. It is instantly delightful with a honed coastal precision that marries delicate but still lively (after 27 years) spirit with austere well-aged characteristics. Delicious, balanced and quite super. But, there’s more on offer here for those who are like to experiment with reduction and resting – both have positive effects, and indeed, resting *after* reduction adds a further layer of complexity. First-rate.
Review calendar provided by Boutique-y Whisky
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