The older edition of the Timeless series is destined for travel retail - which hopefully will be an area of the industry which comes back to life over the course of 2021 and onwards. The drop in global travel has seen this lucrative part of the market virtually put on ice for the past 12 months. Where some airports, particularly those in certain cities in APAC, would have been ringing with the sound of tills and credit cards, sales are currently in the sort of slump which would have any distillery rethinking its market propositions.
The expression has been matured in ex-bourbon for 29 years before being finished in Spanisk oak matusalem sherry for an addition 2 year period. Matusalem is sweetened oloroso or oloroso dulce (cream) style of sherry. It is aged for at least 30 years on average with the additional sweetness deriving from an addition of Pedro Ximenez.
The 31 year old Timeless whisky is bottled at 45.4% and comes with a price tag of £1,750.
Nose: Leading on tropical fruits – griddled pineapple and guava alongside balled honeydew melon – before well-polished oakiness and clearly identifiable Parma Violets are supported by an alluvial quality from shingle, putty and clays, Smoke is but a memory here – a long extinguished beach fire and selection of old, medicated sticking plasters. Resinous wood and pine are joined by citrus zest and rich tea biscuits. Dilution expresses a selection of coastal florals – lavender and sunflower on chalky/limestone cliffs. It’s mineral, but it’s also rather crushed aspirin in character.
Taste: Uttered on the nose, but thoroughly saturated into the very heart of palate is the “floral flavour that divides the nation”. FWP runs throughout – sweet, perfumed and with a sherbet chalkiness. Rosewater, dried mango slices and syrupy orchard and stone fruits provide a backbone – supported by lemon sugar, charred staves and a briny water. Smoke is exceedingly tender here – little more than hot coals and spent tobacco. Reduction is frankly ill advised is you’re already struggling with the strong Parma violet character – it results in a full expression of floral, near soapy character and bitter ground tablet mouthfeel.
Finish: Very long with candied stone fruits and persistent minerality,
A completely divisive whisky, but one which is undisputedly well-made. But whether you’ll actually enjoy it will largely come down to your predilection (or not) for potent Parma Violet/near soapy character. I’m strangely in the middle of this debate and pretty indifferent to it – neither seeking it out, nor disparaging it either. You will more than likely fall on one side or the other. It’s worth highlighting recent releases from indy bottlers such as Atom Brand’s Fiona Macleod and Elixir’s Islay Violets – similar ages, similar profiles, but at 1/3 the cost of this OB.
As time periods go, this one was pretty (in)famous for Bowmore - and this Timeless Series release captures that moment in liquid form perfectly - for better or for worse and with a stiff sticker price attached for the privelege.