This week I've gone through a whole range of Bowmores from different phases in the distillery's history. The two from 1999, while very different, represent what is currently being released. The Prime Malt from 1982 represented a low point. To round them off, I'll finish with something right in between, a malt that was distilled when they were starting to turn their production processes around.
This was distilled on May 29th 1990, filled into a refill bourbon barrel, then bottled on June 1st 2015 at 52.5% without coloring or chill filtration.
Whiskybroker Bowmore 25 Year 1990/2015 Cask #1163
Nose: classic Bowmore peat smoke, coal dust, savory dry malt, seashore, hay, buttery vanilla, orange creamsicle, mango, just a touch of floral character. After adding a few drops of water the peat smoke softens and integrates with the malt, the savory notes resolve into slightly charred cedar, the seashore notes are amplified, and some raspberry joins the other fruit.
Taste: malt sweetness quickly joined by moderate peat smoke, overtones of orange peel, undertones of polished oak and gentle bitterness, fading briefly around the middle, then big mango/tropical fruit notes starting at the back with dry peat smoke. After dilution the upfront sweetness is muted, the orange notes are amplified and joined by raspberry, the oak integrates further, the peat waits to come in around the middle, and the mango notes are even larger.
Finish: long earthy peat and mango, orange juice/peel, malt, gentle oak, long fade out through floral and oak notes
This is without a doubt a very nice old Bowmore. Zero flaws beyond a palate that doesn't quite match the nose or finish. The floral character that 80s and early-90s Bowmore is often prey to is just visible as an element rather than a dominant note, unlike the Prime Malt 1982 Bowmore. On the upside, the mango character is absolutely fabulous and is easily my favorite part of the whisky.
There are a lot of similarities with the less than half the age Signatory Bowmore I reviewed earlier, but the Whiskybroker cask amplifies many of the best things about the Signatory. It's a total bargain in comparison to the wildly expensive OB Bowmores of similar age and vintage, so if you're dead-set on getting an older Bowmore this will be far easier on your wallet than just about anything else you can find at the moment. I was sufficiently convinced to buy a bottle, though in no small part because it will be split with Michael Kravitz.