“Always expect the unexpected.” That’s what an old rugby coach of mine used to say. “Always keep your opponent guessing”, would be his constant half-time mantra. Someone at Bowmore must’ve overheard him at one of our matches because that’s exactly what they’ve done. I opened this bottle of Bowmore expecting to be hit with a rough ‘n’ ready, heart on its sleeve, bullet train of a whisky. Non-age statement, small batch whiskies can sometimes pack quite a punch if a reasonable part of the bottling consists of youngish liquid so I was pleasantly surprised when I poured this laid back, delicate little beast into my glass the other night.
Bowmore Small Batch Reserve
£33 from here
Nose: Perfumy and floral to begin with a touch of bubblegum, boiled sweets and cream soda. Some fizziness too – strawberry laces and fresh grapes – before the gentle smoke gradually appears. Remarkably light and delicate for a Bowmore.
Palate: Again, very floral and light to begin with. Lemon sherbet, icing sugar, meringue and vanilla custard give way to creamy wood smoke and a touch of oak.
Finish: Some candied sweetness quickly disappears but the oak lingers around for a while.
Overall: A very different Bowmore. Strangely light and delicate but the trademark ‘Bowmore smoke’ eventually comes through. If you’ve got a friend who hasn’t tried an Islay before, or is a bit apprehensive about smoky whisky then this is a great starting point. I usually give folk a Bunnahabhain 12yo as an introductory Islay whisky but this certainly jostles for contention. Pleasantly light and very moreish.