The Malt Nuts get to do a lot of fun, unique, and great tastings. We rarely work with brand reps and when we do they usually bring something unique to the table and we’ve had some stellar tasting because of them in the past. But they all pale in comparison to Johnnie “The Scot” Mundell. Apologies to any of my brand rep friends who might read this but you know it’s true. Johnnie is freaking amazing.
While he is no longer the Bowmore brand ambassador, he spent many years there and knows far more about Bowmore, Islay, Scotch, swimming in the cold and possibly life in general, than your average human. He brought along fellow Bowmore alum Iain Mccallum and together they experienced the blind tasting alongside us and dispensed a ton of knowledge. And I’m not being facetious, if you could weigh knowledge I would bet a literal metric ton was dispensed that night.
To be ultra clear, they weren’t there as brand reps, those ships sailed. They were there as fellow whisky enthusiasts with the aforementioned ton of knowledge. In addition to that knowledge were endless wells of insight, passion and humor. We laughed, we cried, we got a bit drunk on ex-Bourbon Bowmore and in the end we had a great time with great people and it was the best virtual tasting we’ve done during the pandemic. And speaking of tasting, here’s how the night broke down.
- Round 1: Cut ex-Bourbon Bowmore
- Round 2: Cask strength ex-Bourbon Bowmore – K&L picks
- Round 3: Indie cask strength ex-Bourbon Bowmore
- Round 4: OB cask strength ex-Bourbon Bowmore
This is an evening I was long looking forward to and even typing these notes up now I’m reliving the excitement. This. Was. Awesome.
Round 1: Cut ex-Bourbon Bowmore
1A: Whisky Peddler Bowmore 16 years (97-13): 46% – ex-Bourbon
- Nose: Spirity, minerally, smoky, bit char and caramel.
- Palate: Spirity, iodine, minerally, sugary BBQ smoke, bit char and caramel.
- Finish: Long -> Iodine and sweet smoke.
- Overall: (2 / 5) Touch soapy and smoky in a way that’s both classic and boring. Kinda reminds me of the old Bowmore Legend.
1B: Bowmore 17 years (old): 43% – ex-Bourbon
- Nose: Floral, cocoa, caramel, smoke, orchard, citrus and honey.
- Palate: Soapy, cocoa, caramel and smoke.
- Finish: Long -> Soapy and sweet.
- Overall: (2 / 5) Soapy and powdery with a bit of fruit.
1C: Bowmore Gold Reef: 43% – ex-Bourbon
- Nose: Soft, sweet, hay-like malt, smoke and fruit.
- Palate: Malty, fruity, sweet and smoky.
- Finish: Long -> Fruity smoke
- Overall: (3 / 5) Sweet and fruity with brushes minerality as it opens.
1D: Bowmore White Sands 17 years: 43% – ex-Bourbon
- Nose: OBE, with bits of caramel, smoke, orchard fruit and Twizzlers.
- Palate: OBE, malt, bits of caramel, smoke, banana and Twizzlers.
- Finish: Long -> Smoke, ash and toffee.
- Overall: (3 / 5) Sweetly smoky, ashy with some OBE musty funk.
What an interesting way to start the tasting. Some 90’s distilled Bowmore, some funky FWP Bowmore aged for 17 years and Gold Reef and White Sands releases. This was easily one of the best first rounds we’ve had and perfectly set the stage for the rest of the ex-bourbon Bowmore tasting.
Round 2: Cask strength ex-Bourbon Bowmore – K&L picks
2A: Old Particular Bowmore 5 years (13-19): 61% – ex-Bourbon
- Nose: Candy sweet, medicinal notes, iodine, fruit, spice and smoke.
- Palate: Bowmore funk, cereal grain sweetness, smoke and tropical fruit (guava-like).
- Finish: Long -> Smoke and tropical fruit.
- Overall: (3.5 / 5) This is nice, I’m enjoying this one. It has a bit more depth and fullness over everything in round 1.
2B: Hepburn’s Choice Bowmore 12 years (01-14): 58.4% – ex-Bourbon
- Nose: Light, spirity, minerally, touch soot and plasticy vanilla.
- Palate: Spice, cereal grain, lightly fruity and some honey.
- Finish: Long -> Medicinal, spirity and funky.
- Overall: (2 / 5) Not integrated well, feels like the notes are fighting each other and it rotates between cloying, bitter and acidic. And yet… I don’t completely and utterly hate it.
2C: Old Particular Bowmore 15 years (01-17): 58.5% – ex-Bourbon
- Nose: Malty, spicy, medicinal and farmy with a bit of cupcake sweetness.
- Palate: Fruity, funky, oily and smoky with a bit of candy sweetness.
- Finish: Long -> Sweet, fruity , medicinal and smoky.
- Overall: (3 / 5) Starts very light and nondescript, but slowly opens to something pleasant. Some light camphor notes arrive with some water.
2D: Faultline Bowmore 15 years (97-13): 60.1% – ex-Bourbon
- Nose: Flinty, medicinal, butter cookies, toffee, citrus and orchard fruit and some spice.
- Palate: Sherry-like sweetness, fruit, char, citrus, spice and orchard fruit.
- Finish: Long -> Sweetly fruity and medicinal with a touch of char.
- Overall: (4 / 5) Cereal grain sweetness slowly mixes in with fruity sweetness. water brings out more smoke and a bit of brown sugar. This is really, really, good.
K&L does well with their Bowmore picks, I have a bunch of them in the bunker because they manage to do so well with them, so this round being relatively good wasn’t a surprise. Though it did make me mad at myself for not getting a bottle of that Faultline release when I had the chance…
Round 3: Indie cask strength ex-Bourbon Bowmore
3A: The First Editions Bowmore 14 years (97-12): 54.8% – ex-Bourbon
- Nose: Flinty, medicinal, touch citrus and heavy candy sweetness.
- Palate: Sherry-like sweetness, orchard fruit, cocoa, and char.
- Finish: Long -> Sweetly fruity and medicinal fruit.
- Overall: (3.5 / 5) Sweet and fruity with smoky hints that opens to a candy sweetness that reminds me of Twix.
3B: Jumping Jack Bowmore 2002: 57.7% – ex-Bourbon
- Nose: Perfume, fruit, charred marshmallow and smoke.
- Palate: Perfumy, fruity and charred plastic.
- Finish: Long -> Smoky perfume.
- Overall: (.5 / 5) Sweetly charred plastic with a bit of funk and a bunch of FWP. Unpleasant is an understatement.
3C: Old Master’s Bowmore 15 years (90-05): 51.1% – ex-Bourbon
- Nose: Banana bread, toffee, and sweetly charred marshmallow and smoke.
- Palate: Smoke, Honey Nut Cheerios, tropical fruit and citrus peels.
- Finish: Long -> Fruity candy sweetness with a medicinal smokiness.
- Overall: (3.5 / 5) The more it opens the more it tastes like those gummy Sunkist Fruit Gems candies with a bit of smoke.
There was a lot of discussion about the… culturally insensitive, yeah let’s go with that, the culturally insensitive nature of the middle bottle when we did the reveal. It was by far my least favorite expression of the night so no love lost there. I’ve also posted the back of the bottle further down if you’re curious about that.
Round 4: OB cask strength ex-Bourbon Bowmore
- Nose: Funk, citrus peel, toffee, pears, Honey Nut Cheerios and smoke.
- Palate: Sweetly charred, fruit, malt, smoke and grapefruit peels.
- Finish: Long -> Darkly sweet and lightly smoky.
- Overall: (3.5 / 5) Not bad, a decent Bowmore representation.
4B: Bowmore Dorus Mor II 10 years: 55.9% – ex-Bourbon
- Nose: Fruity, smoky, malty and spicy with a bit of vanilla.
- Palate: Fruit, funk, smoke, soap, toffee and citrus.
- Finish: Long -> Toffee, citrus and malt.
- Overall: (2.5 / 5) There is a bit of soap popping through that has me pausing to think about what’s going on. It seems to be a fairly common note at this point.
4C: Bowmore Dorus Mor III 10 years): 54.9% – ex-Bourbon
- Nose: Toffee, dried cherries, cocoa, smoke, roasted nuts and fruit.
- Palate: Funk, caramel, smoke, citrus, orchard, plastic and vanilla.
- Finish: Long -> Smoke, caramel, fruit and spice.
- Overall: (3 / 5) This is pleasant. It has a nice orchard fruit sweetness underpinning it all.
4D: Bowmore 100 degrees: 57.1% – ex-Bourbon
- Nose: Toffee, dried dark fruit, malt, honey, roasted apples and smoke.
- Palate: Roasted apples, cinnamon, char, vanilla, smoke and honey.
- Finish: Long -> Smoke and dried orchard fruit.
- Overall: (3 / 5) I like this. I like this, it’s a soft easy Bowmore that goes down easy.
This was a super fun round, and getting to go through all of the Dorus Mor releases was super educational. Diving in and seeing the similarities and differences side-by-side is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time and experience the distillery’s ideal ex-Bourbon Bowmore.
This was seriously a great night and it definitely sits in my top 3 virtual tastings of 2020 and, to this day, sits as one of the highlights of this entire pandemic. A huge thanks to everyone who threw in bottles, to our amazing guests and to Barry for coordinating.