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Monday, April 3, 2017

Bowmore 18 year old 1996 AD Rattray cask 960034

While there probably is no perfectly safe bet in whisky, the casks that the Morrison family (of AD Rattray) have selected from Bowmore (a distillery they'd once owned) are very reliable. I have such confidence in Rattray's Bowmores that I bought this particular 375mL bottle blindly at a price I'm embarrassed to share. But because I am who I am, I immediately regretted spending stupid money on an unknown thing. Having long since opened and emptied this small bottle, I no longer regret my decision.

Distillery: Bowmore
Independent Bottler: A.D. Rattray
Region: Islay, Scotland
Age: 18 years (March 27, 1996 - April 9, 2014)
Maturation: hogshead
Cask number960034
Bottle count: 464
Alcohol by Volume: 59.1%
Chillfiltered? No
Colored? No
Sample from my bottle at the halfway point

The nose starts off all beach scents and tropical fruit. Oranges, pineapples, honeydew, seaweed and whiff of band-aids. There's also this note of Mr. Sketch's blueberry scented marker that takes me on a sense memory trip back to the early '80s. The palate leads with melon rind, mint leaves and green tea. A moderate peat note dissolves into soil and grass. There are fresh peaches and an orange-y honey. Molasses chews. And a hint of tar. The finish has a great combo of lightly bitter melon rind and bitter lemon soda. Roasted peat and barley. Lots of lemon and lime juice in the aftertaste.

This is perfectly consumable at its high ABV, so I'm not going to add much water.

WITH WATER (~50%abv)
The nose is more focused on white fruits now, though there's still a papaya nectar thing going on. Wet grass and barbecue sauce. More of Mr. Sketch's blueberry marker. Hints of vanilla bean and lemon pastry. The palate is sweeter, with brown sugar and clementines. A touch of bitterness balances out those sweets. Gets a little more leafy, heightening the green tea note. Mmmmango. It finishes with peat, pears and honey.

Awesome stuff. Its quality and style are the exact opposite of the officially bottled Bowmore fluids. It's rich and complex. The big fruit notes on the nose are dynamite. The earth, fruit, honey and herbal palate characteristics sing in unison. It works with or without water. I highly recommended this whisky, if it's in your price range.

Availability - Happy Hunting!
Pricing - $90-$110 for a 375mL bottle
Rating - 91