The team over at Morrison Bowmore has been busy, it seems, experimenting behind closed doors with their maturation decisions.
Just a few weeks ago, its smallest brand – Glen Garioch – was revealed to be releasing a whisky matured entirely in virgin oak casks (review here).
Then it was said that it would be releasing an Auchentoshan matured in the same style (review coming soon on Miss Whisky).
And, finally, its big brand – Bowmore – has come out with a 23 year old whisky matured solely in ex-Port casks; an interesting rarity when you think the majority of companies only ever finish in ex-Port casks rather than undertake a full maturation.
Busy, busy, busy!
As background, the whisky has been bottled at the nicely punchy strength of 50.8% and is non-chill filtered. It is presented in a rather beautiful red box, which I loved the design of. It is being released globally in “limited” quantities – in this case, 12,000 bottles, so not exactly rare – and 120 cases have been allocated to the UK. And the price tag? £350. Phew. More on that later.
First off, what did I think of this dram? Here are my thoughts:
(c): Rosy Amber
(n): Rose petals in a French garden: alluring and evocative. It dances delicately to the nose, with a vanilla dusting and a light rush of smoke rather than a full-on powerhouse hit. Orange blossoms and chocolate linger in the background.
(p): Oily and punchy on the palate – more of a classic ‘Bowmore-ness’ comes through. There is a richer smoke and less Port influence, and it’s quite peppery and punchy. Additional notes of chocolate and caramel fudge gives a depth, while a hint of Turkish Delight lifts it back to having the slightly floral quality.
(f): Fruity chocolate.
This was a really interesting expression of Bowmore and nice to see how it holds up with a different cask maturation. It was rich and punchy but the slightly floral, Turkish Delight note made it a bit more delicate.
The only tricky thing for me? The price tag. I know it is ‘limited’ but when I look to other companies such as the Scotch Malt Whisky Society (ie: this 29 year old with just over 200 bottles at £137) it puts limited in another context. Independent bottlers will, of course, usually be cheaper and this is definitely an intriguing offering from Bowmore, especially since most companies only finish whisky in Port casks rather then doing a full maturation, but it did seem a lot for a 23 year old whisky. Whingeing aside, it is a dram worth trying so if £350 for a bottle isn’t up your street, try to hunt it down in specialist whisky bars.