Dram Review: Black Bowmore (First Edition)

[50.0%・29 Years Old・Distilled in 1964・Bottled in 1993・Original Bottling・Limited Release of 2,000 Bottles]

Nose:

Bold. Ink and dark toffee treacle, the peat is earthy and herbal with a fine jus of black cherries and prunes drawing out the shyer, soft fruits. In time there are hints of fine smoke and maple smoked bacon trailing off..

Palate & Finish:

The intensity of the prunes aligns the focus back onto the Sherry, rich, creamy mouthfeel with the dried fruits oozing out a jammy, mouth-coating texture; soft peat, oak and pepper gelling with fig jam and maple syrup.

A medium finish of dark fruits and herbs, with some milk chocolate drawing the richness to a close.

Thoughts:

Let’s set the scene here… the year was 1993, there really weren’t a whole lot of whiskies out there looking like this bottle.. you spent the kind of cash that made you go “oh god.. I did that..”, and the dram really didn’t disappoint and indeed amazed.

Much like how the 308 only has 255 horsepower or how the calibre 2121 only has 40 hours of power reserve, a lot has changed and we are all a bit spoiled now.. but this is still an important Sherried Bowmore.

☆☆ [Highly Recommended]

-Nicholas

Whisky review: Caol Ila Aged 25 Years 1978

Style: Spicy and Smoky

Nose:
Coal fire incinerates and gives a slight bitter, deep and sooty start. Feeling damp as well after it is given a good maritime brush. Fiery spice peaks and pinches in quite early in the form of hot chilli oil. Then the other facet of Caol Ila shows up – lemon confectionaries, floral rims and a bit chalky. Orange blossom and a dash of brine. Sea side mineral rocks, spice continues to rumble and pierce through towards the end.

Palate:
An explosion, much more than just a small burst, of flavours and spice takes place as it strikes the palate. Lemon citrus, chalks, minerals and smoke are compressed and strapped onto the powerful chilli spice bazooka. Crushed liquorice roots, lime cordial lightly drizzling onto orange sponge cake. Abundant but velvet peat gradually infused with chocolate oak and creates a deep but bitter-ish base notes. Sweet aloe vera and smoked kelp lingering towards the end.

Finish:
Lemon bars, malt biscuits with a touch of smoked bacon. Quite sweet and tantalising.

Thoughts:
Similar to its Rare Malt cousins in the same era, this OB cask strength Caol Ila 25 is also packed with ultra-firepower. Raw, explosive and overwhelming at times which makes me think this is definitely not for the faint-hearted. However, inside its relentless, steely cannon shell, rests the beloved Caol Ila DNA which is elegantly sweet, dimensional and complex which sings gloriously as it attempts to navigate through the deafening waves.

☆ [Recommended]


[59.4% | Original Bottling | 1978 Distilled | 2004 Bottled | Limited Edition | Natural Cask Strength | *]

-Esmond

Whisky Review: Caol Ila 1982 Aged 35 Years Diageo Special Release 2018

Style: Smoky, Spicy and Complex

Nose:
Fiery spice carrying iodine blotches, black pepper and maritime sprays. Red chilli and radish wrapping around an elegantly refined sweetness – tropical mangoes infused with homemade lemon cordial. Beneath it sits a layer of seaweed and kale, Himalayan rock salt sprinkles and even a pinch of yellow curry powder (!). Bonfire smoke roasting gently, while the sweetness slowly morphs into orange confectioneries and grape Fanta. Another red chilli flash, the tone gradually sinks lower and we have cappuccino and dark liquorice towards the end. A bit hot but very complex.

Palate:
An immense burst of flavours at the forefront – the tropical and citrus fruits, maritime notes, peat, oak and malt are all fired together in a single shotgun round, very powerful and explosive… Black peppercorns, a couple of mineral flicks, followed by another burst of orange citrus and succulent lime konjac. Ashes dancing in the sea breeze, chocolate oak with a light iodine brush. Liquorice roots tossing into the fire, red fruits beginning to emerge after a while, mostly in the form of blackcurrants, decorated with some frosty mint. Delicious. Mocha taking a hint of rum. Honeycomb and paraffin sealing off a final layer of maritime smoke. Absolutely brilliant.

Finish:
Going a bit soft now, lemonade, vanilla icing sugar and kombu candies lingering. Malt syrup trickling down very slowly with a sense of pureness.

Thoughts:
Amazing. The intensity and complexity of this dram are almost second to none. It feels this has taken in all the specialities of well-matured Caol Ila from that era – The elegant citrus/tropical fruitiness, gentle but charming peat smoke, dignified oak, complex layerings and sometimes a certain degree of ferociousness, everything rolled into one and generated an incredibly compact and complex expression. Extraordinary. Probably a tad too spicy when assessed individually but I think it still possesses all the qualities to be a modern-legend bottling.

☆☆ [Highly Recommended]

[58.1% | Original Bottling | 1982 Distilled | 2018 Bottled | Bottle Number: 1012 | 3276 Bottles | Natural Cask Strength | Vatted | **+]

-Esmond