Bowmore’s Piece of Islay Twitter Tasting

Yesterday Bowmore organized a Twitter tasting with three new whiskies they’re releasing in Travel Retail. There was some confusion to what was exactly happening since there was some unclear communication about several events they are organizing. After that was cleared up everything was set to go at 8pm.

Booze and chocolates sound nice enough. If the chocolates are from an ‘artisanal chocolatier‘ and the booze is from Bowmore, that is kind of promising. It’s also a bit of treacherous ground Bowmore is getting on because of all the flack Travel Retail is getting lately. There’s a variety of blog posts stating ‘the amount of Travel Retail‘, the general crap quality of whiskies there and the high prices asked for it.

Anyway, I’ve been an avid fan of Bowmore recently, with the recent releases having a rather stunning level of quality. From the NAS 100 Degrees Proof to the Tempests and the Laimrig. I love them. I must admit I have not tried any of the 1980s releases both because of price and the fear of FWP.

Now, on to this Twitter Tasting. The pack looked stunning when it came in. Three samples in a nice and shiny box. Some chocolates in the bottom (after some searching), and a few postcard-like info cards.

Gold Reef
On the nose the first whisky I got lemon curd, a hint of shammy leather and some peat. It’s pretty sweet but also some mineral quality of basalt and coal. Someone suggested popcorn and that was true. The palate was sharper than expected with white pepper, salted caramel, peat and vanilla. Later, there’s honeydew melon. Dry and creamy at the same time. The finish is a bit thin at first, but then shows pepper, minerals, stone and salt.

With the salted caramel and dark chocolate the sweetness of the whisky is masked but the pepper, oak and minerals are heightened.

White Sands
The one with an age statement in this tasting is 17 years old. A 17 year old Bowmore has some reputation to live up to. It actually smells like sand, charred oak, apples, pears, melon peel and toast. Just a touch of smoke and mostly yellow fruits. On the palate, there’s cappuccino with sugar, treacly coffee and ‘stoepkrijt‘ liquorice. Also ginger, dry oak and a hint of vanilla. A chalky dustiness, but also creamy. Some cappuccino and a hint of smoke. The finish is more standard Bowmore-like with more smoke and a bit more floral too.

Black Rock
There’s peat, but the fruitiness of the sherry is massive. Lots of dates, figs and maraschino cherry. Rather earthy on the nose as well, it reminds me of warehouse 1. The palate is slightly sharper than expected. Black pepper, treacle, dates and vanilla cream. The finish has more peat than earlier on, coarse and dry. Later it gets back to dates and oak.

The chocolates bring out the coffee and chocolate flavours of the whisky. It also loses some of the fruity flavours, unfortunately.

Now, of course, I have to decide which is my favourite, but I can’t. I think they’re all on par. The White Sands has some nice age to it. The Gold Reef is nice and bourbon cask-y. The Black Rock is the biggest surprise since I don’t enjoy most of the younger sherry releases. This one, however, is stunning. The date flavours are great, and I love it. So, maybe I want that one most.

  • Bowmore Gold Reef, 43%, +/- £ 59.99 for a liter
  • Bowmore White Sands, 17yo, 43%, +/- £ 79.99 for 0.7l
  • Bowmore Black Rock, 40%, £ 44.99

Now that last one’s a surprise regarding pricing. The rather aweful Old Pulteney sherry lighthouse was far more expensive. Unfortunately they’re only in Travel Retail, but I’ll sure be on the lookout the next time I’m in an airport!

A lot of thanks to Bowmore for hosting a great event and sending out free booze!

About Sjoerd de Haan-Kramer

I'm very interested in booze, with a focus on whisky. I like to listen to loads of music and play lots of Magic: the Gathering, and board games too. I'm married to Anneke, have two daughters Ot and Cato, a son Moos and a cat called Kikker (which means Frog, in Dutch). I live in Krommenie, The Netherlands.
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