Every once in a while, you find yourself needing something to take the edge off of things.

And so, it was on a particularly stressful day of late that I decided to open up my sample of the new Bowmore Small Batch Reserve whisky. According to Rachel Barrie – the master blender – one should “relax, take it easy and enter Islay time” with this dram. This sounded appealing. I was particularly desperate at that point to escape exhausting London time.

The new release combines first and second fill bourbon casks to create what the company calls ‘Bowmore’s lightest and most delicate expression to date’. It is meant to pair perfectly with vanilla ice cream, olive oil and sea salt, all of which compliment the various flavour profiles of the whisky.

As I didn’t have these things to hand, I took a bite of vanilla madeleines before a sip of the whisky – it’s not what I’d normally opt for, but my stress levels meant I was craving sugar.

A sip of whisky followed and then…

…and then…




I could actually create a shopping channel style advert out of my appreciation for that moment.

The characteristic Bowmore peatiness was there but in an oh so gentle way. There were hints of fudge, vanilla and oak that one would expect from an ex-bourbon cask, but it wasn’t overpowering. It just said, “Hello, you’re feeling stressed aren’t you? Well, why don’t I use my relaxing flavours to eek away your blues!”

For those that like a heavier, sherried Bowmore (like the Darkest) this might seem a bit too gentle. It’s not yelling at you but just presenting itself for enjoyment. The nose is welcoming with grassy, soft sugary notes that would appeal to a beginner, but I think the palate is complex enough with its creamy smoke, hints of lemongrass and saltiness to encourage a longer-term single malt sipper to still enjoy it.

It may be because I don’t like a whisky that’s too bitter or smoky but, for me, this was really, fantastically lovely. I fell for it.

It’s the kind of whisky that, if I had a whole bottle, I’d probably sit down with friends new to whisky and spend the night drinking it all. It was just what I needed to take the edge off!