I haven’t tried much if any Bowmore since visiting the distillery in 2017. I really enjoyed staying in the cottages and the tour was excellent. The distillery has a long tradition and was even used as a divisional headquarters during the Second World War.
Today though there is a certain negativity in its reception from commentators and some old fans. While there will always be a hardcore fan base willing to spending the incredible sums of older bottles and occasional drinkers who will buy a £35 bottle as a special treat. The kind of people who read say this blog (hi 😀 ) have more or less left Bowmore for whiskies which are more varied, exciting and innovative.
A case in point is this Vault Edition 1 from 2016. The Vault Edition has been billed as the first in a four part special edition series. The idea was for four diverse and interesting cask strength bottles which each pick out a characteristic of the Bowmore house style. For the first release the hook is salt. This is the release to enhance and promote the brine and sea air aspect of the Bowmore character. The marketing hook being that Value number 1 is below the sea level and this enhances the marine qualities of the whisky.
Since 2016 there have been no new releases and the whisky for edition is still widely available. The original price was £100 but recently I have seen most retailers selling for £75 which suggests a change in pricing from Beam Suntory rather than shops discounting older stocks. The whisky is cask strength at 51.5% ABV and is from ex-bourbons barrels. The age is not mentioned anywhere and apart from what I have already mentioned there is no other information on what the whisky is.
Colour – Straw
Nose – lots of saline and something acrylic which gives a chemical and harsh complement to a perfumed or wild flower field sweeter note. A touch of smoked kipper from that lightly peated malt.
Palate – Lots of spice and heat from chilli’s. Even with water the spices are only partially tempered. The texture is about the middle of the road but the smoky nature is very very subtle to the point you really have to search it out.
Finish – There is more chilli and pepper on a prickly finish which is a really good length actually. There is a depth which suggests a decent about of well aged whisky in the mix when you compare it to something like Small Batch
At £75 or £100 this is too expensive for me. Is it different to a lot of Bowmore’s I have tried? Probably but only slightly I would say. Yes the saline note has its volume turned up a notch but the peat is turned down. I suppose I just don’t like the format which basically ends up with whiskies being produced to be one trick ponies. My whiskies sit in the cupboard for an awful long time and if there isn’t new things to pick out and pull apart on each encounter then it will quickly become boring and uninteresting.