It can be tricky to read “distillery X” and “year Y” and just assume you know what to expect, simply because you’ve tried a number of similar expressions. This Bowmore 1989 in the TWA Fights series is quite different from the ones I’ve had before.
Bowmore 23 yo 1989 (53,1%, The Whisky Agency ‘Fights’ 2012, ex-sherry butt, 341 btl.)
Nose: a sherried and slightly dirty version of Bowmore, nothing like the clean bourbon versions we’ve seen earlier. Buttery sherry, prunes, with farmy notes (manure, stables) and musty moss. Quite some pipe tobacco, leather and lots of cigar boxes. A bit of salt water and mint. Not much peat at all. Reminds me of the excellent Bowmore 1995 SMOS.
Mouth: similar profile, plenty of sweet pipe tobacco notes. The sherry is more herbal and meaty now (hints of cough syrup) and there’s more peat to be found. Again not entirely clean but in a farmy way rather than a sulphury way if you ask me. Cinnamon and cloves. Coffee. Wet forest notes again.
Finish: long, dry, with more sharpish oak now, faint echoes of sherry sweetness, salty liquorice and herbs.
This is not what we expect from Bowmore these days, it’s farmy (or dirty if you like) and a little rough but full of interesting flavours. Maybe not be totally balanced but I really like its unique tobacco character and power. Around € 135.