Expression: 12 year old
So lately it seems that whisky is all about independent bottlings. In almost all of the blogs you see online, people talk about expressions that have not been released by the distillery itself, but by a third party, a so-called ‘independent’. I am one of those people, I admit. Lately I’ve been tasting many of these independents and when I buy a bottle of whisky nowadays, it very rarely is an official bottling. There’s a very simple explanation for this phenomenon; in general it is assumed and opinionated that independent bottlings (or IB’s) are better. I agree with that statement to a certain extent. IB’s very often have a much higher depth of flavour, especially the single casks (which a big part of them are) and are therefor much more interesting to smell and taste. After all, official bottlings are more often than not a ‘house blend’, a whisky created by mixing many casks together to achieve consistent results for the core ranges. This, however, takes away the unique properties of every cask used, which is just the thing that makes IB’s so interesting.
Anyway, while all of the above might be true, I’m not saying that a ‘standard’ official bottling is bad. Nor am I saying that an independent is by definition better than an official. It’s just a different thing altogether I believe, and I see them as two separate types of whisky and therefor review them as such. Since I own many distillery bottlings (as you can see in my list here), I thought it was about time to have a go at an official distillery bottling.
This particular one, the Bowmore 12 year old, has been in my collection for a long time, in fact it was one of the first whiskies I ever bought. Since then I’ve gone through a few bottles of this and while it might not be the most special whisky I ever tasted, I’ve always liked it. Strangely enough I’ve never reviewed it here, so this is way overdue.
Nose: Salty seas; brine and seaweed. Obvious peat, but this is not in your face. A nice liquorice note that I very often get in Bowmore and some fruit; tropical stuff, maybe mango or papaya. Salty caramel and a faint coffee note. I rather enjoy this nose.
Taste: Smoky peat, warming. Still that liquorice note, now like a cough drop. Salted caramel again, with some really nice tropical fruit sweeten things up. Some dark chocolate and spice. It really coats the mouth, yummy stuff.
Finish: Really not up to scratch with the rest. The finish is rather short. Hardly any of the fruit remains, it’s mostly the cough sweet, seabreeze-saltiness and obvious smoke.
Overall: Many people might not think much of this, but I like it. For a standard, core range bottling this really isn’t bad at all. The finish is disappointing, but the nose and taste are really quite nice. In my opinion this is much, much better than Bowmore’s NAS core bottling ‘Legend’.
3,5 stars (81-85 range)