Review: Bowmore 17 Years Old 1997 – 3.251 Engineer’s work-bench in a boatyard

Category:  Islay single malt scotch whisky

Origin:  Bowmore Distillery

Bottling: Scotch Malt Whisky Society Cask 3.251 Engineer’s work-bench in a boatyard

ABV: 55.4%

Cost: £75.60 from SMWS

Score: 84/100

Scotch Malt Whisky Society

What they say:

3.251 Engineer’s work-bench in a boatyard

Cask No. 3.251

The nose had reasonable sweetness (toffee, golden syrup, marzipan, sugared almonds) some savoury suggestions (cooked crab, roast duck with plum sauce) and ‘an engineer’s work-bench in a boatyard’. The palate, at natural strength, conveyed burnt sticks and over-done fruit cake, sticky gingerbread, teasing smoke and hints of soot and ash. The reduced nose leaped about from crushed shells and coal sacks to spiced stewed plums, figs and orange fruit cake, with a slight suggestion of rubber (those old tyres that dangle from harbour walls). Water improved the taste, in our opinion – Terry’s chocolate orange, sticky toffee pudding, butterscotch, Demerara and clove.

Drinking tip: To enjoy, while sitting in the sun, watching scenes of harbour life.

Date Distilled: 25 September 1997 Colour: Deep blood orange gold Age: 17 years Flavour : Lightly peated Cask Type: Refill ex-sherry butt Whisky Region: Islay Outturn: 553 bottles

SMWS 3.251 Engineer's work-bench in a boatyard

What I say:

Sampled at the SMWS Big November Outturn preview tasting on 10th November 2015

Colour:

Orange amber gold (9/20) medium tears with fine legs

Nose:

Straight back to my childhood and the smell of Scalextric cars after a long race, burning/metallic, struck matches, ozone/electric, then fruity dried fruits, fruitcake mix, raisins, figs, black cherries, treacle, molasses, dates, tannic leather, tamarind paste

Taste:

Burning rubber tyres and sulphur, rich dark dried fruits, raisins and sultanas, a little salt/trail mix?, malty cereal barley, with water the sulphur subsides marginally and reveals a hugely creamy vanilla which envelops the other flavours and works much better for my palate at least.

Finish:

Medium-long, mild ashen peat, tannic fruit and leather, slightly chalky/shellfish?

Overall:

Another dram over which many of my accomplices were raving about and buying bottles, for me I was a bit Meh! about this one as I couldn’t get over the burning aroma and sulphury palate – fabulous and evocative to smell but the aroma was the best part of this dram.