Bowmore Tempest, the 10 years old cask strength expression, is a hit. A big part of this success was due to the excellent first batch released in 2009. There seemed a general consensus that subsequent batches were less cracking, though still really good.
Today we’re placing two batches head-to-head. In our left corner, there is Bowmore Tempest Batch 4, in the right corner is the latest Batch 5. Both of them were the first to be composed by master blender Rachel Barrie. While you’ll still find Batch 4 in most stores in Europe and the US, Batch 5 has just started to appear in stores, especially in the UK. Around € 60.
Bowmore 10yo Tempest (55,1%, OB 2013, first fill bourbon casks, Batch #4)
Nose: medium entry, with sea air and brine. Even a slight spirity prickle. Lemon. Grows wider and sweeter: butter biscuits, vanilla cream, coconut flakes and the same fragrant strawberry notes I picked up in the first batch. Hints of canvas and oak dust.
Mouth: a straightforward mix of citrus (lemon juice, grapefruit zest), spices (ginger and pepper) and brine. Slightly stormy indeed. Hints of leather. Great glimpses of tangerine and some vanilla in between, but everything seems to happen at the same time.
Finish: still some fruity sweetness, alongside growing sooty notes and tobacco.
Slightly fierce in some places, but also one that shows the nice strawberry and mandarin fruitiness that I really like.
Bowmore 10yo Tempest (55,9%, OB 2014, first fill bourbon casks, Batch #5)
Nose: starts a little more direct, with some added menthol on top of the briny notes. Soft aniseed, white grape juice and lime. The same biscuity sweetness and vanilla, but less of the interesting strawberry – more towards sweet oranges this time. Overall a little rounder, showing less of the dusty dryness.
Mouth: a more gradual evolution, slightly rounder at first (mild vanilla, sugared corn flakes), then slowly going towards zesty bitterness and gingery sharpness. Also a floral note that comes out.
Finish: long, sweeter than batch 4, with some honey but less smoke.
Batch 5 seems less full-bodied than batch 4, showing a little less complexity. I liked this one less, but keep in mind this is my personal preference, both are really nice whiskies.