The first release of the Bowmore Tempest Series consisted of 12,000 bottles (with 500 specially marked for Feis Ile – no difference in liquid – just a little neck tag noting the festival), drawn from a vatting of 1st fill ex-bourbon casks.
Nose: Opening on citrus – key lime pie – alongside alluvial cues of pumice stone, gravel, lava rocks and BBQ briquettes. A dainty fresh grassiness runs throughout – reeds, dried leaves and heathery smoke – together with hobnob biscuits, Milky Bars and sea breeze. The addition of water reveals a much more medicinal core with ointment and bandages alongside engine oil. From fresh and chiselled to pleasingly dirty.
Taste: The arrival is both soft and impactful (I.E. it’s well judged) and provides an immediate hit of lemon peels and candy necklace sweetness. Maltiness is supported by a rocky pepperiness and firm coastal salinity. Smoke is more pervasive now – a combination of lamp oil, coal, burnt earth and well-diluted iodine. The back-palate is all on soils and moisture with cellars and dunnage floors. Reduction is once again thought-provoking – lemon barley water and jellies together with leaf mulch and ‘green’ mossiness.
Finish: Quite long, very crisp and precise with bitter orange and pleasingly restrained drying oakiness.
Bowmore Tempest Small Batch Release No.1 typifies what’s possible when a high-quality distillate meets high-quality oak – there’s a harmonious equilibrium of elements throughout. And yet, there’s almost two whiskies here – undiluted: a precise, crisp and sharp homage to coastalness – reduced: a somewhat filthier, less on-the-rails configuration which still all feels highly coherent. Reverent to its spirit, to great casking and its distillery origins. Lots to like here.
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