Dram Review: Bowmore The Fèis Ìle Collect1°.n 2018 Aged 15 Years

[52.5%・15 Years Old・Bottled in 2018・Official Bottling・Limited Release of 3,000 Bottles]

Nose:

Quite salty and herbal from the cask, dense with chocolate dust, vanilla fudge, smoked peanuts and roasted almonds, in time it develops a certain musk from mushrooms and herbs.

Palate & Finish:

Dried figs and salted nuts, herbal with smoked black tea as the leathery tannins carry notes of oyster shells, blood oranges and burnt wood staves.

Towards the vegetative side in the finish, chocolate mud cake and oak tannins channel through smoked nuts with some cinnamon dusted raisins.

Thoughts:

A modern Bowmore, quite a big dram relying on cask and strength, but not together necessarily.

Arguably too much cask going on but in saying that though, it is still coherent enough to please people who are not high proof addicts.

☆ [Recommended]

-Nicholas

Whisky Review: Signatory Vintage Bowmore 2000 Aged 14 Years Cask Hand Picked by The Whisky Exchange

Style: Fruity and Floral

Nose:

Smoked ham, squid ink and dry barley mixing with some iodine blots. Followed by a layer of chilli and Sichuan pepper spice which buries a subtle honey mead-tropical fruits sweetness at a lower level. White fruits, nectarines coated with lemon balm gradually emerge, albeit at a lesser form. Mossy and mineral touches towards the end. A unexpectedly dry and tight aroma.

Palate:

Tropical fruits come to life and burst forward on the palate. Naval oranges and mangoes wrapped around with coconut cream. Surreal floral, soapy notes (yes, you heard me right) glazing over the rims of the sweetness – Throw in some Lavender salt, rosemary and eucalyptus oil, hmmmm, curious, but it’s fine. Then we have some nutmeg, squid ink, iodine and smoke barley to form a smoky, drier facet. More lemon balm and vanilla cream which give the spirit a steady base.

Finish:

Chewy mango sweetness hanging around, while smoke and herbs are on the retreat, a sweet and serene finish.

Thoughts:

A rather bright and tropical fruits-driven (well, not so much on the nose) Bowmore. The fruity core holds strong while there is a bit of everything built into the spirit, whether it be peat smoke, mineral, spice, wood, herbs, etc… And then there is the infamous floral soapy notes as well, which, surprisingly in this case, not only did no damage but it actually enhanced the expression with this extra, unique fragrance. This makes me wonder if this is intentional, by refilling a soapy Bowmore cask? No matter what, the end result we have here is a vibrant, sweet and intriguing Bowmore.

✓ [Recommended if you like the Style / Distillery]

[54.4% | 2000 Distilled | 2014 Bottled | Cask Number 800093 | Matured in a Bourbon Barrel | 233 Bottled | Cask Strength | Non Coloured | T+]

Dram Review: Scotch Malt Sales Bowmore Aged 12 Years

[57.0%・12 Years Old・Distilled Circa 1970s・Bottled Circa 1989・Scotch Malt Sales Bottling・Limited Release]

Nose:

Happy to say this is not even close to being hot and overwhelming, in fact it is pretty poised and relaxed, sweet peat drawing from the syrupy base as molten salted caramel gracefully flows out.

Palate & Finish:

Substantial, luscious mouthfeel of sexy confectionery sweetness, stringing out soft fruits, milk chocolate buttons and smoked bacon.  Peat and minerals lightly sparkle in the tail

An extension of  pretty stone fruits and creamy almonds.

Thoughts:

Bravo, a powerful delivery on the palate but still delicate with the details.

The kind of specs that doesn’t inspire much confidence if you see it on a current release but so well executed with the late 70s distillate.

Some food for thought perhaps..

☆☆ [Highly Recommended]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Scotch Malt Sales Bowmore Aged 18 Years

[57.0%・18 Years Old・Distilled Circa 1970s・Scotch Malt Sales Bottling・Limited Release]

Nose:

Boosting an indulgent thickness, chocolate, smoked figs and other mushed Sherry fruits get churned with toffee and caramelised popcorn, stupendously expressive.

Palate & Finish:

The Sherry influence is phenomenal, fragrant dark fruits carrying this certain sensual saltiness from the cask. The aged Sherry note folds together with walnuts with the strength of the dram bringing out blackcurrant and dark cherries.

Syrup drenched strawberries and raw chocolate with a mild nuttiness to it, the Jamón saltiness stretches to a mesmerising end.

Thoughts:

Now, this is one substantial digestif, a satisfying treat to cap off a perfect night.. the peat of 70s Bowmore probably got lost amidst all that Sherry but who’s to say for certain the dram would fare better..

☆☆ [Highly Recommended]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Glen Extra (Springbank) 12 Years Old

[70 Proof・Bottled Circa 1960s・12 Years Old・Robert Watson Bottling・Limited Release]

Nose:

Grassy with this certain attractive antique style white fruit note. Some burnt toast follows as well as leather and tobacco, some jasmine too before it turns somewhat savoury with grilled capsicum to go with a perfume-y undertone.

Palate & Finish:

Smooth white fruits along with some pineapple ester, lush brushes of honey and pasture and some olive oil and rosemary followed by a subtle malt element with spices lightly tapping on the tongue.

Soft finish with only scattered traces of menthol and bitterness.

Thoughts:

Modern Springbank releases are mostly quality but this is such an era specific Springbank, something that really can’t be replicated no matter what.

The nose is voluminous and detailed, the palate comfortably balanced.

☆ [Recommended]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Springbank 21 Years Old Specially Bottled for Malt House Islay

[54.1%・Distilled in 1997・Bottled in 2018・21 Years Old・Official Bottling for Malt House Islay・Cask No. 118・Single Cask Release]

Nose:

A proper showing of meaty Sherried Springbank but at the same time it gets evened out by some vibrant light fruits. Quite leathery and malty with some fainter fragrance hanging on, followed by a clean wave of ripe mangos and raisins.

Palate & Finish:

Quite a pleasing delivery of honey, sultana and marmalade though it also takes on a whole heap of spices. The sweetness is vibrant with a rewarding honeydew note.

The malt eases out in the finish with faint brushes of fruits and ginger flower.

Thoughts:

Something of a curveball from nose to palate but the lighter profile on the palate proves to be refreshing enough despite not being as full bodied or as neat as I would have hoped.. an entirely attractive dram..

☆ [Recommended]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: SMWS 27.109 Springbank “Guns on the Grouse Moor”

[58.3%・Distilled in 1998・Bottled in 2015・16 Years Old・SMWS Bottling・Single Cask Release of 738 Bottles]

Nose:

Perhaps not a surprise for a Springbank matured in a Gorda cask, the nose is driven by meat broth and salted meat, with a tinge of gun powder sulphur in the mix, thick confectionary layer giving an oily sweetness, rounded with more and more minerals in time.

Palate & Finish:

Brightly cask influenced with citrus and honey, a dirty juicy burst with the spirit imparting wee peaty and grassy notes. Notes of cardamom, minerals and candied orange cake as chilli and pepper spices cut through.

A laid back sweetness in the finish seasoned with minerals, the malt proves to be satisfying in time.

Thoughts:

Well, this is sulphured, but in all honestly not too adversely so, one could argue the dram benefitted from it as it gives a fairly weighted mouthfeel..

✓ [Recommended if you like the distillery/style]

-Nicholas

Whisky Review: Springbank Calvados Wood 2000 12 Years Old

Style: Crisp, Sweet and Spicy

Nose:

Kicks off with a fresh and spirited tone, fragrant green apples, kiwi, fruit tarts while coal fire churning gently underneath. A few acidic touches and the spirit/herbal spice is quite fired up and locked up part of the aroma. Shy malt sponge cake gradually opens up with stewed fruits sweetness at the back.

Palate:

Less side notes and more clarity on the palate – Starts with aromatic green apples, kiwis, guavas and nectarines accentuate beautifully at the front taking a hint of airiness. Concorde pears, malt cake, a mineral peck, peat smoke all gently build into the lower layer. Grassy note and peppermint spice humming gently at the background.

Finish:

The malt singing cheerfully, more green apples, some smoke and umami to finish.

Thoughts:

Dialing back to the old days and I am pretty sure this is my first ever Springbank (well, it was not that long ago!). The crisp sweetness with this Calvados cask got my eyes sparkling back then, and now, 2019, I finally got a bottle and it is still a great drop as I remembered. Calvados cask maturation is such a rare sight and sometimes I wonder why this is not done more often. Granted, there is weakness in this expression that it feels there is an additional spiciness stacked upon the spirit which stifled some elements. On the other hand, the aromatic green fruit signatures do well to freshen up the whisky which makes it such a clean, fine dram.

☆ [Recommended]

[52.7% | Original Bottling | 2000 Distilled | 2012 Bottled | Cask Strength | Limited Release | 9420 Bottles | *]

-Esmond

Dram Review: Springbank 18 Years Old (Bottled in 2009)

[46%・Bottled in 2009・18 Years Old・Official Bottling・Limited Release of 7,800 Bottles]

Nose:

The nose begins with a charming and accomodating dose of dark fruits and some dried fruits, minerals brushed over raisins and berries with discrete hints of wet grassiness and earthiness as well as a faint lace of smoke.

Palate & Finish:

Pleasing dried fruits dressed with bleached almond nibs, moderate doses of prunes, plums and forest berries with a casual splash of spices onto the minerals. Dried orange slices, tea leaves, cinnamon and menthol as the tannins thinly sweeps over in the form of dark cocoa.

Mild brushes of dried fruits, leather and tannins, quite delicately stretches out.

Thoughts:

This bottling from 1999 was the first 18 year old released in the modern Springbank era, and it was really well crafted, with the distillery’s DNA well conveyed via a lovely Sherry influence.

Really a proper step up from the entry level offerings.

☆ [Recommended]

Thank you Alan.

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Gordon & MacPhail Private Collection Glen Grant 1948 (Cask No. 2154)

[48.6%・70 Years Old・Distilled in 1948・Bottled in 2018・Gordon & MacPhail Bottling・Cask No. 2154・Single Cask Release of 210 Bottles]

Nose:

It is remarkable how lively the dram still is!  Honey is laid down in a stately and elegant manner, the floral notes mingle with some Italian herbs as the creaminess from the oak melts into a certain vegetative note and what results is an instant gratification.  To further the enjoyment there are notes of essence oil from lightly squeezed lemon peels, of tree gum, of ginger powder and of passion fruit syrup.  In time the malt and minerals fill the base, faint hints of tobacco and powdery wood incense swirl with traces of a vanilla and candied orange cake that is moist, syrupy and buttery and paired with poached pears and marzipan.

Palate & Finish:

Condensed and jammy, the dram delivers a fruit extravaganza, oranges, pears, lychees and wee pineapples.  The well aged leathery creaminess coats the taste buds as the dryness of the oak slowly presses down, lighter notes of leather and tobacco flirt with more exciting notes of cinnamon, cardamom, pepper, licorice and marzipan.

The mesmerizing dryness from the antique charred oak staves extends and elongates in the finish, mellow and peaceful with just a suggestion of smoke.

Thoughts:

I don’t think I could quite do justice to how absolutely magical the nose is.

The age does show on the palate but the whisky manages generations of wood influence well, in part because the Sherry component is surprisingly not overtly assertive.

I do wonder what the cask would be like had it been bottled two decades earlier, my guess is that this cask was always going to be special, it would make for an exceptional whisky whether it was bottled as a 40 year old or as a 70 year old.

In any case though I am glad it was forgotten about in the massive warehouse of Gordon and MacPhail, resulting in probably an once in a life time opportunity..

☆☆ [Highly Recommended]

Thank you Gordon & MacPhail for the sample, it’s much appreciated.

Photo credit: Gordon & MacPhail

-Nicholas