Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Whisky Review: Bowmore 9 Year Sherry Cask Matured

Bowmore's lineup has taken more twists and turns over the last decade than any Islay distillery short of Bruichladdich. Somewhere in there they transformed from a fairly stolid and almost forgotten producer of peated whisky, frequently derided for the controversial quality of their distillate, to a powerhouse commanding top-tier prices. At the same time, they've also pushed out a number of budget options since their long-standing Legend release disappeared.

Contrary to the label, this whisky was matured in both ex-sherry and ex-bourbon casks, then bottled in 2016 at 40% with coloring and chill filtration.

I purchased this sample from Dramtime.

Bowmore 9 Year Sherry Cask Matured

Nose: a hodgepodge of classic sherry notes, rotting seaweed, ocean air, a touch of peat, clean malt, oak, cheap cinnamon, floral notes, and fresh vegetation. After adding a few drops of water the peat expands and the sherry becomes fruitier, the seaweed disappears, and some fresh apple cider notes emerge.

Taste: sherry sweetness with a sour edge up up front, which dries out and is joined by an undercurrent of dry peat building gently towards the back, with a flourish of malt near the end. After dilution it gets softer, the sherry spreads out, the peat is pushed towards the back, and there's more noticeable oak.

Finish: dry peat, fresh malt, sherry residue, mineral/clay - the drier elements linger for a surprisingly long time

I wanted to like this more. It has a lot of the Bowmore hallmarks that I enjoy. The aromas are definitely the best part, even if I found them muddled. The finish had surprising staying power, though I wasn't totally sold on the profile. Even the classic Bowmore floral notes that can be off-putting kind of worked here, though more peat would have helped.

Overall I mostly wanted a bit more punch. The flavors were a little forgettable, but I could see myself enjoying this on the regular if I wanted something mildly peated that didn't expect a lot of attention. As is, it's just a little too tepid for me to recommend it.

I'm just not entirely sure what they were trying to get at here. Is this supposed to be a cheap, approachable Bowmore to draw people in? Is it trying to make money off of casks that weren't good enough for their standard releases? Or was it just trying to feed the ravening consumers demanding something new all the time? I really can't tell.

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