My favorite new single malt that I tried last year was the Bowmore 16yr 1994 Signatory bottling that I'd purchased at Royal Mile Whiskies (London) last May.
I completed the bottle on Friday to celebrate the end of a crummy week. There was one (sizable) drink left in it:
Because the bottle had been open for about eight months, the whisky had plenty of time to settle and because it was less-than-half-full for at least three months, there was a chance for oxidation to set in and change (some say ruin) the whisky. So, this final drink would also be a chance to document the flavor changes caused by these chemical reactions.
Here is a recap of my notes from early October:
Color - between ginger ale and chardonnay
Nose - (neat) softly peated, medicinal/band-aids (but less so than Laphroaig), cowhide leather; (w/water) peat and medicine fade, but menthol moves forward
Palate - (neat) Peaty but smoothly so, light cream and sweet potatoes; (w/water) Peat smoke
Finish - (neat) hot stuff, cayenne pepper hot, lingers and lingers and lingers; (w/water) cools down, black peppery
I enjoyed it because the elements were so well integrated into the whole. It actually taught my taste buds how to like peat.
Now at the tail end of the bottle, eight months after it was opened, it had clearly transformed into a whole new creature. Now keep in mind, I only drank it neatly, but did so over a period of 60 minutes.
The color remained the same. Thank goodness. I'd be worried if that had changed.
The nose had grown, if you will. It was spirity and grassy. Sea air had joined the soft peat and band-aids. It was oakier, some burning paper. Around the edges there was some rotting fruit sugars as well.
But all of that did not prepare me for the flavor.
The palate was enormous. Barbecued peat and barbecued seaweed were massively upfront. Something like salted pork, too, and maybe maybe some weed (if I knew what weed tasted like...).
The finish was sweeter than the palate. Some of that BBQ lingered, but there was regular peat smoke too. It was very dry, very vegetal.
Wow, it had really changed! It's not just my developing taste buds. The nose was softer. The palate was rougher. The finish was drier. It had developed a completely different character than any other Bowmore that I've tried. It was like an Arbeg, but barbecue as opposed to soot.
Very complex and enjoyable. It was an excellent final act.
(ratings remain the same)
Pricing - Bargain at $70
Rating - 93