BTC 2014 Sample 7

BTC Sample 7: Bowmore The Devil’s Casks II

Sample 7 is what you call a BOMB. Sherry, wood, enormous amounts of flavour. this is going to be tricky to work out! Yesterday we got a Lochside and I got some points while being mostly wrong. So, yay!

A Lochside, not from the widely acclaimed 1981 vintage, but a cool 10 years on. I quite liked it, but did think it was a modern OB standard bottling by Clynelish, I suppose. In any case: very cool to be able to try something like this, which I would not normally be able to afford. Today, our organiser Ewald has pulled out all the stops with a real bruiser.

On the nose, it is immediately apparent: this is old style sherry, and high ABV as well, a slightly strange combination which limits the number of possible bottles. European oak spice (chinese 5-spice, pepper, nutmeg), old wood and ditto leather, sunbaked asphalt, ozone, charred beef and the merest hint of smoke. But, there’s also fruit: raisin, cherry and blood orange. All in all: old dirty sherry. With added water I get a little more of the conventional sherry flavours (chocolate, raisins), but mainly still overpowering woodspice. It reminds me of last year’s ‘lemons on fire in a tire factory’ Craiglodge, but this is still significantly cleaner than that (highly interesting) trainwreck of a whisky.

The taste continues the theme, with an even heavier focus on spice: nutmeg, pepper, cloves and cinnamon permeate everything. Also tannin, old wood and leather. The fruit has to be teased out: blood oranges and juicy alcohol-soaked sultana raisins. In the finish, the woodspice stays firmly on top, with some ash and bitter vanilla.

Overall, this is all a little too much for me. Interesting, yes indeed. Do I like it? Not so much. I find a little too much wood influence here, which has (along with, I think, some peat smoke) taken over this whisky. But then, whether I like it should be largely irrelevant to the score, so I score on balance (not great, but not bad either as I am very sensitive to over-oaking) and complexity (yup, very high indeed).

My guess: Bunnahabhain, Islay, 26yo, 60.3% (this one)
My score: 87/100

What it turned out to be:

Bowmore The Devil's Casks II
Bottled 2014, 10yo
ABV: 56.3%

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