New Whiskies

Batch 90

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New whisky tasting notes Batch 90

The first of this week’s whiskies is one of three Bowmore releases that’s replacing the brand’s entire travel retail range – Bowmore 10 Year Old: Dark and Intense. But is the distillery playing a numbers game with this latest expression? Dave Broom then progresses to a second, ‘subtle but revealing’ Bowmore, twice as old as the first and bottled by Hunter Laing. Two new eight-year-old Islay Mist bottlings join the fun – one that’s been finished in Manzanilla La Gitana casks, the other in Amontillado Napoleon casks. And then it’s on to Laphroaig, with its ‘rambunctious’ 1815 Legacy Edition contrasted with an ‘unusual’ but ‘rewarding’ 16-year-old from Hunter Laing.

Scoring Explained

Overview

  • Bowmore 10 Years Old: Dark and Intense

    Score 7.6/10
    Scoring explained >
    Bowmore 10 Years Old: Dark and Intense
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    40%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Islay
    Availability
    Travel retail
    Flavour camp
    Smoky & Peaty
    Nose

    Reddish in hue, with heavy Sherry accents dominating. Jaffa Cakes, damp peat fire and a hint of rubber. This thick, moist fruitcake element continues, pushing any smoke into a supporting role. Fat, sweet, direct and cask-driven. Water brings out more wood.

    Palate

    Soft start and, while it remains sweet, the smoke is permitted a little more say, bringing some smoked pimentón elements. The mid-palate is disappointingly bland before fruit pastilles and light smoke pick things up again. 

    Finish

    Tannin and liqueur chocolate. Light smoke.

    Conclusion

    It’s well enough assembled, but that’s the issue here. It’s whisky by numbers.

    Right place, right time

    John Lydon reinvented as a nightclub crooner.

    Bowmore 20 Years Old (Hunter Laing)

    Score 8/10
    Scoring explained >
    Bowmore 20 Years Old (Hunter Laing)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    50%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Islay
    Flavour camp
    Smoky & Peaty
    Nose

    While pale, this isn’t too fierce in terms of heat. In fact, everything is rather gentle. One of the seashore Bowmores, all thrift and salt, dried marram grasses, old pot-pourri and sugared almonds. Discreet. With water, a touch more of the nuttiness.

    Palate

    More expressive than the nose, with plenty of the suggested salinity – peated Hebridean sea salt, violet. Deepens on the back-palate. Subtly balanced.

    Finish

    Continues to deepen, now into richer peat.

    Conclusion

    A subtle but revealing Bowmore. One for those with time on their hands.

    Right place, right time

    Peated salt? You betcha.

    Islay Mist 8 Years Old (Manzanilla La Gitana Cask Finish)

    Score 8/10
    Scoring explained >
    Islay Mist 8 Years Old (Manzanilla La Gitana Cask Finish)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    43%
    Production type
    Blended Scotch whisky
    Region
    n/a
    Flavour camp
    Smoky & Peaty
    Nose

    Lightly nutty with light smoke and a farmyardy/yeasty element. In time, hints of rock pool, almond and hot sand. Dry and fresh.

    Palate

    Sweeter and softer than you expect to begin with, but there’s mid-palate minerality balancing the sweetness. For all of that, it remains fresh and up. Water makes it slightly less expressive, but it remains highly drinkable.

    Finish

    Though a little short, the smoke pokes its head out once more. 

    Conclusion

    The manzanilla does seem to come through. A delicious, balanced blend. A limited edition but hopefully it will become part of a revitalised range.

    Right place, right time

    Trout fishing in Andalucia. 

    Islay Mist 8 Years Old (Amontillado Napoleon Cask Finish)

    Score 7.8/10
    Scoring explained >
    Islay Mist 8 Years Old (Amontillado Napoleon Cask Finish)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    43%
    Production type
    Blended Scotch whisky
    Region
    n/a
    Flavour camp
    Smoky & Peaty
    Nose

    Overt (but not overpowering) Sherry, alongside roasted nuts and gentle smoke. There are some oxidative, walnut-like elements alongside dried peels, and that hot sand element. Water makes the smoke become more pronounced, along with dried apple, sultana, but also a hint of sulphur.

    Palate

    Long. Earthy smoke, more dried fruit, hints of ground coffee, dark fruits and spiciness. The smoke is now more restrained, with a redcurrant-like tartness being added. Water softens things. 

    Finish

    Nutty chocolate, but remains dry.

    Conclusion

    Highly drinkable. A sound house blend. Again, we’re close to the end of this small run, so do try.

    Right place, right time

    Christmas on a volcano.

    Laphroaig 1815 Legacy Edition

    Score 8.4/10
    Scoring explained >
    Laphroaig 1815 Legacy Edition
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    48%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Islay
    Availability
    Travel retail
    Flavour camp
    Smoky & Peaty
    Nose

    Opens quietly with dried fruits soaking in booze, then the distillery character begins to grow – initially with green, vegetal wormwood elements, then kombu (edible kelp), wet slate and sea-washed pebbles before it deepens into earthiness and dried fruits again. The cask elements are bold, but balanced. With water, there’s more incense, clove and sandalwood.

    Palate

    The higher strength brings a pleasing pepperiness to the fore while the Sherried elements now work in contrast to the sweet balsamic notes, with the result being that complexity is increased and balance achieved. Back comes the angelica and sweet cicely, wet dog, iodine and seaweed, then chorizo.

    Finish

    Blackcurrant and smoky.

    Conclusion

    A big, rambunctious malt. Well worth checking out when you are passing through travel retail. 

    Right place, right time

    A baffled labrador on a trawler.

    Laphroaig 16 Years Old (Hunter Laing)

    Score 8.2/10
    Scoring explained >
    Laphroaig 16 Years Old (Hunter Laing)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    50%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Islay
    Flavour camp
    Smoky & Peaty
    Nose

    Pancake batter and quite piercing alcohol, then some seashore/medicinal elements. Lightly oily with some nuts and low cask influence. A lack of cask-driven development seems to hold it back… 

    Palate

    … but it blooms into life in the mouth. Light iodine and a massive retronasal mix of dried seaweed, squid ink and lemon. With water, it dries a little and cigar-like smoke is brought forward along with chypre and pine, and peat smoke.

    Finish

    Pine-accented, mossy, salty, smoke. 

    Conclusion

    Unusual, but ultimately rewarding.

    Right place, right time

    A summer cottage in the pine woods next to the sea.

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