Today we’re looking at a couple of Bowmore releases, both with a good amount of age on them.
Bowmore 21 Year Old - Château Lagrange
This limited edition release has been fully matured in French Oak Barriques from Grand Cru classé winery Château Lagrange.
There’s Light peat, red fruits such as strawberries and cranberries, sweetened cream, and a light herbal note reminiscent of basil and coriander. A little air reveals hints of freshly baked waffle cones and Frosties. This has a very light and fruity nose.
Palate has a touch of ash, some cream soda, caramel, and a touch of strawberry liquor. This isn’t bad, but there’s a lack of body to the palate. It’s like the mid palate is missing - it’s sweet to start off and then nothing, followed by the finish. Finish is medium length and quite salty….similar to a salted caramel sundae.
Nose (with water)
Now there’s a little more toasted cereal, a little yeast, and some more savoury aromas masking the previously found fruit. It’s like the smoke has mixed in with charred wood and reduced the intensity whilst increasing depth. A touch of the salt from the undiluted palate seems to have appeared too.
Palate (with water)
There’s some bittersweet wood flavours alongside the existing ash. The fruit notes aren’t really there any more, but there is still some lingering sweetness instead. The finish has gone, totally disappeared. A little disappointing.
The conversation moved on pretty quickly after trying this dram, and that sums up what we feel. It’s quite forgettable, short finish and more watery than we’d like. It’s lacking a depth of flavour that we were really looking for, although the wine cask finish does impart a nice fruit flavour. Overall disappointing. 6.5/10 without water.
Bowmore 18 Year Old North Star Spirits (2001)
This spent 18 years in a refill bourbon barrel before being bottled as part of series 10 of the North Star releases. There are 190 bottles in the outturn.
On the nose there’s an initial hit of fruit, think oranges and lychee. This isn’t particularly smokey to us, there’s a touch, but its light and we could best describe it as burnt toast. Giving this a little air reveals some caramel, and a touch of mint.
Palate has a generous portion of fruit salad. There’s pineapple, papaya and mango in abundance. Great oily mouth feel to this. Not particularly peated on the palate we’d describe this more as oily and costal than peated. There’s also a touch of brine here.
Nose (with water)
Reduced nose has more smoke, there’s now tar here along with iodine and ash. It’s not bad, but we’re missing the sweeter notes. The sweetness here is now better described as charred marshmallows.
Palate (with water)
Similar to the nose, the reduced palate has lost some of the sweetness. This is now more like drinking a hot chocolate made from seawater, and bournville chocolate. Good length salty finish on this one.
We’d recommend this without water. Now we’re not saying water ruins this, but we prefer the sweeter notes that dominate without. This is a difficult one for us to score as it’s a very good dram, but at £175 it’s a little pricey. If £175 isn’t bank breaking for you then this is an 8/10, but if you wouldn’t normally drop that kind of money on a bottle there are better value options. For example the SMWS have released a number of 17yo Bowmores recently around the £120 mark that are comparable in quality. We've written some notes on these in our outturn review articles.
- 10 - Perfection. A whisky that we’ll remember forever.
- 9 - Amazing. We’d pay through the nose for a bottle.
- 8 - Great. Pick this up at RRP.
- 7 - Good. Happy to have a dram or two but wouldn’t buy a bottle.
- 6 - Passable. Would accept a dram, but wouldn’t seek it out.
- 5 - Poor. Would drink if it was the only option.
- 4 - Bad. Maybe it can be saved by ginger beer?
- 3 - Awful. It can't be saved by ginger beer.
- 2 - Pour it out
- 1 - We’ve never tried a whisky rated this low and hopefully never will.
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