Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Presenting…Bowmore & Paul A Young Chocolates

From perhaps the most famous – and certainly most distinctive – of the whisky regions comes the Islay Single malt of Bowmore. One of the oldest distilleries in Scotland, they choose to dry their malt with hot air for 45 hours, and peat for just 15 hours, so it does not have the power or an Ardbeg or a Lagavulin but it does make for easier drinking and a good one to start Islay novices on. Bowmore is also mainly aged in ex-Bourbon casks and these come from just two sources - Heaven Hill and Wild Turkey. So introduction over and our host Phil Nickson (clearly a Colin Dunn fan!) started us off with some tricks when tasting:

-     Try to smell the whisky with your mouth open
-          Little sniff first so you do not burn the senses with ethanol
-          Put your hand on top and shake (or pour a little into palm), rub till dry then smell your hands

Our first whisky was Bowmore 12 Years Old (40%) paired with Sea Salted Caramel filled chocolate.

Colour of golden syrup
Smell of bonfire smoke, TCP, BBQ char and vanilla really comes through with a bit of time in the glass
Taste is sweet at front, more of that vanilla with sharp brine on sides of the tongue
The match? The dark chocolate coating finishes the whisky really well adding bitter notes to the vanilla

Then onto Bowmore 15 Years Old (43%) with a Dark Chocolate Truffle

Colour is darker gold from more sherry influence
Smell is liquid caramel with some medicinal notes and a lot of (fresh) fruit
Taste is spicy from extra 3%, deeper sugary richness and has a coffee finish, yum!
The match? Not as strong I do not think but again a nice bitter/sweet match

The third was Bowmore 18 Years Old (43%) with a birds nest type thing of Dark Chocolate and Nuts

Colour was darker again from extra barrel time
Smell was even sweeter, sweet chestnuts roasting and fruit cake – Christmas anyone??
Bowmore and peated malt
Taste was spicier still, with milk chocolate and nuts
The match? I don’t like nuts so…No Comment!

No onto the big boys and Bowmore 10 Years Old Tempest Batch 3 (55.6%)

This whisky is aged by the sea wall in their warehouse so there is a lot of salt on the palate and this is really very much bonfire smoke. There is also a bigger punch at this alcohol level so a bit of water goes a long way to bringing out the complex web of flavours. At around £45 if you are looking for a special present for a whisky fan this may hit the spot

And lastly a whisky that cost £300 a bottle, which only has (now!) 119 bottles available in the UK and sits at cask strength 52.3%: 1985 Bowmore. All I can saw is a heady mix of TCP and honeycomb. What a treat, one to enjoy without tapping away at the tasting notes!

As ever, thanks to Callooh Callay for hosting these awesome tasting opportunities - and for the incredibly tasty mini hot dogs too! 

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