Bowmore Small Batch
Ok so small batch…a now overused colloquialism used to evoke, handcrafted, artisanal, craft and care.
We saw a healthy use of it in the bourbon industry, but seen more often by the Scottish now. In this case it’s appropriate I suppose since this entry level Bowmore is a vatting of first and second fill bourbon barrels exclusively.
This one was released in 2013-2014 as a replacement or companion for the entry-level “Legend” but it’s hard to follow Bowmore what with all these duty-free and Europe exclusive releases.
As of this writing the small batch has been pulled from the re-vamped lineup and is to be replace by the new Bowmore No1 (not to be confused with vault editions No1, or the fact that No1 vaults appears on everything Bowmore these days) according to the site that one is a 40%abv , NAS in First fill bourbon cask (so no re-fill in that one).
This bottle was given to me by my dear brother…who probably jumped the gun on this because of my waxing all poetic about “Tempest”. This being nothing like what I described he hated it.
Nose: Light peat and smoke like cigar ash, grapefruit, camphor, honey, army surplus store (old uniforms in metal boxes), creamy vanilla, smoked herring and West Indian Lime aftershave.
Palate: Ohh dirty, wet earth, salty, coppery, caramelized white chocolate, petit-grain essential oil, there is some sweetness. Then tropical fruits, coconut, passion fruit but there’s just not much for them to hold on as the texture is very thin.
The finish balances on loads of dirty & herbal waves, vanilla, tinned pineapple, earth and again the return of the herring smokehouse.
I don’t know what constitutes a small batch for these guys, at least in bourbon it usually means high proof and a specific or slightly different taste profile highlighted, kind of the equivalent of Scotch’s young cask strength releases. That said, it is an interesting side of Bowmore,the use of first and also second fill bourbon barrels provides a focus on the spirit rather than getting the wood to do most of the heavy lifting, sadly I feel that this one was neutered by the low ABV and whats is most likely chill-filtering. I know this is like a trite mantra that is often repeated but it is no less true.
When I first opened this bottle I thought it had little to no finesse, some of the flavors feeling artificial but some oxidization did wonders for it and I kind of kicked myself for generously leaving the last 1/3 to a friend but I felt like it was the right thing since I inherited this bottle in the first place.