It was a pre-Valentine date. A ‘whisky date’. The hashtag was #LoveBowmore, and last night Rachel Barrie – the genius creator behind whiskies from Ardbeg, Glenmorangie and now Bowmore, the oldest Islay distillery – ran a Bowmore whisky tasting on Twitter. She sent many people in the whisky community a selection of samples, wrapped in red tissue paper. It came with a card – “Hope you enjoy the bouquet” – as pictured. Quite the gift for the week of love.
It was a lovely gesture and a great idea – to get folk talking about and comparing Bowmore whiskies online. The four samples were kept a mystery and were revealed throughout the night, which allowed for a great comparison of some of Bowmore’s more unusual offerings. There was also a healthy dose of banter, innuendo and the odd link to Barry White music videos, to help things along.
Anyway, with the Walrus of Love playing in the background, here are my tasting notes from the session. Would Cupid strike this whisky drinker’s heart?
Dram 1: Small Batch Reserve – 40% ABV
Colour: Pale straw. On the nose: Malted barley seems prominent. Young, lively. Sensual, creamy, citrusy, briny, but yes, a very malty aroma.It reminds me of the Laddie Islay Barley whiskies, or their Organic perhaps
In the mouth: All of that cereal logically comes through on the tongue. Zippy. Really tasty malty stuff. Wood showing there. Black pepper. A wild and rugged (and very seafaring) Islay youth? With gentle charms, though.
Dram 2: 15 Year Old – Darkest 43% ABV
Colour: Untreated oak, a hint of rose. On the Nose: Now that is interesting. A smokey fruit salad. Grapes, pears, but very understated. Smouldering campfire at the end of the night. Coastal.
In the mouth: A superbly balanced dram – a perfect marriage of sweetness and peat. Bitter chocolate, sultanas, raisins, chewy, cigar, spices. Citrus and brine again. A medium weight in the mouth, which brings everything together so well. Second favourite of the night.
Dram 3: Tempest IV – Cask Strength
Colour: Straw. On the nose: Sharp. Sweet shop. Classy. Tropical. Tangy apples.
In the mouth: It really comes alive on the tastebuds. It’s quite intense at first, even for a cask strength whisky. Thick. Honey notes. A great weight in the mouth. That tanginess settles to reveal grapefruit, the citrus flavours almost hiding the peat, but it comes to the fore. Summer puddings. A zinger, but not my favourite of the bunch.
Dram 4: Mystery Whisky – a Cask Strength treat from Warehouse No. 1.
Colour: Mahogany. On the nose: Oh sweet lord yes. This is lovely. Crème brûlée. Toffee. Gentle maltiness and peat seeping in, but we’re onto dessert now.
In the mouth: Deliciously viscous. Velvety texture Just sits in the mouth perfectly. The sweet flavours just fall over themselves in the mouth: brown sugar, steamed pudding, cream, custard. A handful of dried fruits. All of which comes with an almost camembert or brie edge, which hangs there for a good long while before it fades into a peppery, plummy, woody delight. Very complex. A lot of character here. The best of the night, I’d say, and I desperately want a bottle. I don’t even know what it is! I will update whenever I find out, but I suspect Bowmore (and Ms Barrie) are playing the long game…
All in all, it was a great experience. I’ve seen others run a whisky tasting via Twitter before, but not quite like this. It was impressive to see such variety from Bowmore. Is it love? I think it might be. Particularly for the last one, whatever it is.
Hats off to Bowmore’s Master Blender.