Bowmore’s Number 1 Vaults are fairly legendary and the company likes to us remind of this. Regularly. The distillery’s new Vault Edition series is a four-part exploration of characteristics which define Bowmore as a whisky. The first release ‘Atlantic Sea Salt’ in no surprise to anyone is designed to focus on the ‘sea salt tang of Bowmore’. Whilst technically a limited release, bottles are still widely available in many outlets, so the number of bottles produced was probably well into the tens of thousands.
Nose: Initially extremely shy. Buttered popcorn, coconut and a vague nuttiness sit alongside light yellow fruits (undefinable), damp clothes and a heavy pang of copper. There is certainly some salinity here but it to is understated at the outset. Peat is barely present on first nosing, though resting does improve things later. A few minutes resting in a glass clarifies the fruits in to pineapple and gooseberry, and likewise ups the smoke levels to a point that you’re now not wondering where the hell they got to in the first place. No major problems, but at the same time there’s not a lot going on here.
Taste: Reasonable mouthfeel, but arguably a touch lacking for the inherent ABV. Now salt is leading the story and nicely too, with a real undercurrent of tingly salinity. Briny brackish water, mild iodine and light soot start to reaffirm that we’re drinking a peated whisky, but it’s still all largely keep on the down-low. There’s certainly a thrust of vanilla from the American oak casks, but the copper flavour is present again and starts making me wonder what portion of this bottling is from pretty young casks.
Finish: Medium in length, fairly astringent and with a chalky feeling in the mouth. Salt is the name of the game here too, it’s well rounded and perceptible.
On the positive side, this Bowmore Vaults Edition does indeed focus on the salinity that it promises. Beyond that, I’m struggling a bit to recommend it further. It’s easy-going and won’t challenge the senses too much, but at the same time is that really what the consumer should expect from a bottle a shy under £100? – probably not to my mind.