Whisky Review: Bowmore 9 Years Old Sherry Cask Matured Limited Release (Bottled 2016)

Category: Islay single malt scotch whisky

Origin: Bowmore Distillery

Bottling: Suntory

ABV: 40%

Cost: £28.25 from MoM or currently £20 at ASDA

bowmore-9-years-old-sherry-cask-matured

What they say:

Officialy this doesn’t appear on Bowmore’s website in either core range or limited editions – so here is what I have gleaned from other sites

“This Islay Single Malt from the island’s oldest operational distillery has been matured in the finest Oloroso sherry casks for 9 years.” according to the The Whisky Shop.

Or according to Master of Malt “Whiskies matured in both bourbon and Sherry casks were used for this release,” and The Whisky Exchange “This entry-level whisky has spent all of its life maturing in a combination of bourbon and sherry” (both seem rather unlikely for an expression called ‘Sherry Cask Matured’, however I’m not sure the current legislation or SWA have any ability to correct that if it is true…)

As The Whisky Shop blurb is possibly closer to the truth here is the rest of what they say:

Presented at 40% abv, this peaty expression reflects the natural elements surrounding Bowmore’s legendary No.1 Vaults, the oldest maturation warehouse in Scotland. (eh?)

The nose has rich cocoa, raisins and pepper balanced with citrus notes and subtle Islay smoke. The palate offers complex sherry and peat smoke with dark fruits and sweet creme caramel following, while the finish brings a balance of sea salt and peat smoke.

What I say:

Dramvent Calender Day 4

This December I am attempting to sample and review a whisky everyday for the 24 days of Advent in the run up to Christmas. My very basic criteria as I sorted through my masses of whisky and samples were these:

  1. Single malt scotch only and should be (or have been) generally/easily available
  2. Each day must be from a different distillery
  3. Each day must be equivalent in age or older than the previous

A Bowmore matured in Sherry (possibly, see above) casks for a minimum of 9 Years and produced as a ‘Limited Edition’ yet found in its thousands of bottles at major supermarkets discounted to £20. Supposedly the Foil to Bowmore’s other budget release the Small Batch Bourbon [Matured] which rapidly changed name to Small Batch (in case anyone thought they were making Bourbon at Bowmore???). It seems since Suntory’s takeover that most of Bowmore’s releases have a slightly fubar’d element to them – at least in PR terms. This one appears to have gone out with PR suggesting it is matured in a mixture of Bourbon and Sherry casks but with a label emblazoned Sherry Cask Matured… Despite this Bowmore was one of my first loves in terms of peated (Islay) scotch whisky, back when I knew reasonably little about it! The more I discovered whisky the less I found amicable or interesting about Bowmore – until recently sipping their 18 year old in the distillery bar, however this expression has gone some way to redress that balance and here is why:

Colour:

Ruby red (13/20), medum-large tears leave finer legs

Nose:

Floral and dusty peat ash & embers, sweet ripe red fruits & berries, tobacco leaf and cigar smoke, tanned leather, toasted bread thick with strawberry jam, malty cereal barley, more floral fuschia notes mingle with gentle earthen peat smoke

Taste:

Dusty and earthy dried peat smoke, slightly chalky, gentle hints of red fruits quite pure like strawberry syrup, reasonably light-bodied (if a little thin at 40%), some slightly bitter oak wood too.

Finish:

Medium-long, peat smoke, sea salt and bitter

Overall:

Interesting and pleasant, a welcome return to florality from Bowmore without descending into their massively violet & lavender creations monikered FWP (French whore perfume) by those that hated & loved them. This had a nice enjoyable peat smoke, gentle and approachable but sadly not backed by strength in the body. This was a little thin and the sherry influence equally light on the palate but it was just about enough. What I do love about this expression however is that it is true to Bowmore’s (older) character, it carries an age statement and it is readily available in the supermarket at £20 a bottle which just about shoots down every argument for over-priced insipidly-bland no-age statement (NAS) whisky ever produced. I would like to score this one much higher if it helps people run out and buy this expression – however we have a system and it scores very presentably within it when age and cost are considered (so rush out and buy a bottle now!)

Score: 83/100

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