When I saw my go to Islay single malt, Bowmore, released a small batch, bourbon cask matured version I just had to hunt it down. This Small Batch is intended to replace Bowmore’s current entry level single malt, “Legends” and is a blend of first fill [59.8% ABV] and second fill [60.2% ABV] whiskies that are aged between 6 and 8 years. According to the Bowmore Distillery:
First-fill bourbon offers delicious vanilla sweetness, subtle spices and bourbon oak smoke to complement Bowmore’s gentle peaty smokiness, while the second-fill cask enhances Bowmore’s fresh fruity complexity and showcases its trademark honey and creamy malt character.
My tasting notes:
Nose: The traditional Bowmore peaty-ness, though not as pronounced, salt sprayed sea air, some vanilla and pear notes, with a touch of spices like cinnamon and allspice.
Taste: The smoke and salt you would expect from an Islay single malt, but you certainly get the vanilla and oak bourbon notes, again a bit of pear and a citrus more akin to finger limes.
Finish: The usual Islay peat smoke fades out and goes to a more oak and even burnt cedar, the vanilla from the bourbon stays and is accompanied again by lime citrus and even a slightly bitter pine or evergreen needle taste.
While this won’t replace Bowmore’s 15 Darkest as my favourite from the Islay distillery, their Small Batch Bourbon Cask release holds a special place in my heart. It rounds out the heavy peat with the delicious vanilla and oak of bourbon, has a lovely dry, bitter, & almost acrid palate finish that leaves me thirsting for my next sip.
This is definitely a worthy replacement to their Legend’s line and I’m likely a little biased due to the bourbon provenance. I would definitely recommend this as a great all night dram, coupled with some great conversation, consider it a great gift idea for the Islay scotch lover in your life this holiday season.