Bowmore – 12 Year Old – 2001 – Hepburn’s Choice – K&L Selection – Single Malt Scotch Whisky | 58.4% (111.8 Proof) $79.99 (Here)
Color/Appearance: Pale pale yellowish gold. Second fill hogshead. Wonderful natural color and presentation. Pure whisky straight from the barrels at Bowmore. Well by the way of an independent bottler’s warehouse, but that really is splitting hairs. Simple elegant bottle with nice silver touches. Label is very informative giving you all you need to know without being stuffy. All lights are green, time to dive in.
Nose: Tinned pineapple, vinyl seats, tropical fruits in the summer coastal air, lime spritzer, dried seaweed on the beach, distant light smoke, and a sparkling glass of Vichy water. By the way if you have never had some Vichy water be sure to make it a priority. Great stuff. Yummy cask strength peat jumps out at you screaming that you have arrived on Islay and things are going to get interesting. If I go too long without smelling this sweet fresh tarmac and seaweed I get out of sorts. One whiff and balance is returned to my universe and I am at peace. If only till the next day dawns. Vinyl and that pineapple are the overriding scents that emerge from the fray and they are really wonderful.
Palate: Sweet lightly briny oysters, earthy peat, and lemon gumdrops complete with crystalized sugar coating. Tar, ash, rock salt, and smoke make themselves known as well. But they only add loads of depth while leaving the overall profile to feel bright and fresh. Another fun to drink whisky. Isn’t that what it’s all about. I love whiskies that are interesting and unique with lots to explore but where you can easily slide back into pure simple enjoyment. For more advice on this ask Florin where a large chunk of my bottle went.
Finish: Dried sunshine, if that was a thing. At first, after you swallow, there is a gentle gap before the finish really gets going, then slowly, one by one, the flavors from the nose and palate all get their time in the sun. Tingly warmth with a twist of citrus and a small puff of smoke. Everything feels powerful and yet delicate. Hard to quantify but it is something you will want to experience first hand.
Overall: Coastal Islay in a glass. Some of the first drams I poured from this bottle were consumed while watching brisk spring sunsets from the bluff overlooking the ocean. I could immediately feel how appropriate a location this was. I find it well peated but not really a peat bomb. For me the peat is dominant but leaves room for wonderful gentle fruits and coastal elements. This being a refill bourbon hogshead means that the cask has very little influence, giving the gorgeous Bowmore spirit center stage. For me this whisky is great because it isn’t trying too hard. It is a simple little taste of the coast and really is a perfect single malt to try if you want to explore what Bowmore is capable of. I have again done things backwards and tried two independent Bowmore whiskies before ever trying anything from their official range. But given the lukewarm reception those bottles mostly receive I feel pretty good about my decision. If you enjoy Islay peat and a very coastal whisky then this austere Bowmore will charm the pants right off you.