Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Whisky Review: Alambic Classique Bowmore 16 Year 1999/2015

Alambic Classique is a German independent bottler of many different spirits, including single malt whisky. This whisky was distilled in the same year as the Signatory I reviewed on Monday, but instead of an ex-bourbon barrel this was filled into a sherry butt, left in the cask for longer, and bottled at its full strength of 56% rather than being proofed down. Let's see how they compare.

Alambic Classique Bowmore 16 Year 1999/2015 Cask #15302

Nose: loads of savory sherry, yeast extract, salty, malt/fresh bread, light and integrated peat, hints of raspberries, cherries, and oak, vanilla. After adding a few drops of water the savoriness grows stronger but seems more integrated with the malt than the sherry, there's a little bit of fresh sawdust, plus overtones of dark chocolate, walnuts, and tortilla chips.

Taste: fairly big sherry and malt sweetness up front, becoming drier towards the back, raisin and suggestions of something green around the middle, fading out with fizzy citrus peel, vanilla, and hints of oak and peat. After dilution the sherry and malt sweetness carry further and become more syrupy, while things kind of fall flat at the back.

Finish: sherry, citrus, malt, heat

Honestly, I found this a little boring. The smoke is almost entirely gone, leaving little in play but the sherry. The Signatory, while lacking any sherry to add complexity, ended up beating this by a mile. I can also make a contrast with the Exclusive Malts sherry cask Bowmore I tried a while back, which retained much more character and peat from the spirit. Given the almost complete lack of oak in the Alambic Classique, this feels like a tired cask that was rejuvenated with more sherry, adding wine but with very other extractives in the wood. While I think the spirit has contributed to the savory character, there's just not enough else going on to make me pick this over any number of other sherry-driven malts that are likely to cost a fair bit less money. Suffice it to say that this sample has not inspired me to buy a whole bottle, unlike a different sample coming later this week.

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