Bowmore… is getting rare on my blog. The core range is limited (and sometimes fails to impress me), limited editions are more and more in the ‘can’t afford’ category, and independent bottlers hardly seem to have access to casks from this distillery (always a joy when they do though).
Today we’re digging into our sample archive to find a Bowmore 1997 single cask exclusively bottled for the Chief Whisky Society in China. It’s from the same batch of Oloroso casks that also went into the Distillery Manager’s Selection bottling and the distillery exclusive cask #666.
Bowmore 21 yo 1997 (54,4%, OB for China Whisky Society 2017, first-fill sherry hogshead, 231 btl.)
Nose: really thick sherry, which initially reminds me of the GlenDronach 1971s (which were always rougher than the 1972s). Truckloads of prunes and dates, black cherries, a lot of pipe tobacco and a tiny whiff of smoke. Dark brew coffee, chocolate and aromatic cedar wood. Echoes of tar, metal polish and petrol as well, slightly funny but it works. An overdose of sherry, but relatively clean.
Mouth: gotta love sherry. Very, very intense. Dark chocolate (including the typical bitterness), roasted chestnuts, tar, prunes and liquorice. Hints of salty soy sauce and sweet balsamic vinegar. There’s a flash of fruitiness towards the end (cherries in brandy but also something of passion fruits) but also firmly bitter herbal liqueur. Fades on menthol and walnuts.
Finish: very long, , this some fruity echoes but mostly woody notes that are highly aromatic and fairly bitter at the same time. Drying notes and some salty peat in the very end.
One of the most extreme Bowmores I’ve had when it comes to sherry cask maturation. A true sherry monster, up to the point where it becomes ridiculously ‘unmalty’ and hard to score. You’ll either find it spectacular or absurd. Or you pick a score somewhere in the middle.