Monday, May 28, 2018

Whisky Review: Bowmore 12 Year Enigma

Bowmore Enigma was part of their travel retail lineup from the early-2010s. It was constructed similarly to the standard 12 Year, but with a higher proportion of sherry casks in the mix, much like the standard 18 Year.

This whisky was aged in a combination of ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks, then bottled in 2009 at 40% with coloring and chill filtration.

I purchased this miniature as part of a set at the Bowmore distillery in 2013.

Bowmore 12 Year Enigma

Nose: classic Bowmore mossy/ashy peat with a healthy dose of wood smoke, leather, cured meat, sweet sherry underneath, clean/fresh malt, vanilla, some jammy fruit. After adding a few drops of water the malt, peat, and barrel char become more clear, a little floral perfume emerges, while the oak and sherry retreat/turn into maple syrup.

Taste: opens with sweet malt and a layer of sherry, quickly overlaid with oak tannins, barrel char, and a rising wave of mossy peat smoke that crests and resolves into more oak tannins and some fruity malt going into the finish, plus a light citrus note riding over everything. After dilution the oak backs off a bit to reveal more sherry but less peat and it is generally more mellow throughout.

Finish: polished oak, tannins, dry peat smoke, a little sherry residue, background malt, tropical fruit

This is a solid Bowmore, especially considering that it's not at its best at their bottling strength and with their usual manipulations. I'd need to try them side by side, but this seems pretty close to the standard Bowmore 12 Year, albeit with a little bit more going on. The aromas and the tropical fruit notes in the finish are probably the best pieces, while the flavors are OK but unspectacular. Water helps in the sense that the oak is less assertive, but both the aromas and flavors become more simple. If you happen to stumble upon a liter bottle for, say, $50 or less it wouldn't be a bad deal if you already enjoy the 12 Year, but it's not something that I would go out of my way for.

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