...where distraction is the main attraction.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Bowmore 14 year old 1996 AD Rattray cask 2873, BevMo exclusive

Believe it or not, here's my second consecutive review of a whisky I actually owned. Yay!

Once upon a time, the big BevMo retail chain sold AD Rattray bottlings that were exclusive to their stores. And then suddenly...they stopped. Amongst those BevMo selected ADR single casks were at least two Bowmores. As I mentioned in Monday's post, I've found AD Rattray's Bowmores to be consistently great. So I was willing to drive 45 minutes towards the Inland Empire to buy the final bottle of this particular whisky. It had been sitting on the shelf for more than three years waiting for me.

Curiously, this whisky was distilled on the same exact day as Monday's Bowmore. And I didn't realize that until just now. Let's see how it compares...

Distillery: Bowmore
Independent Bottler: A.D. Rattray
Region: Islay, Scotland
Age: 14 years (March 27, 1996 - August 4, 2010)
Maturation: ex-bourbon cask
Cask number2873
Bottle count: 239
Exclusive to: BevMo
Alcohol by Volume: 54.8%
Chillfiltered? No
Colored? No
Sample from my bottle, somewhere around the bottom third

I can immediately tell by the nose, this is a different creature. It's beachy: seashells, seaweed and sand. It's a little grassy with a soft but bright peat note. Rubber tires, anise and wet sheep. The palate is hardcore. Super nude. Dingy, dirty, ashy and brimming with herbal bitterness. A soft fruity sweetness lingers in the background, until some citrus leaps forward in latter sips. Some smaller notes of basil leaves and anise. Its simple finish is salty and sooty. Plenty of heat. Sweet fruit in the back. Gets bitterer with time.

WITH WATER (~46%abv)
The nose has moved from the beach to the horse stall: hay, manure and apples. Soft smoke. Anise and chlorine. The palate is super bitter. But good super bitter. By that I mean rooty and herbal. A bitter liqueur minus the liqueur. Lots of peat and salt. Its shorter finish is sooty and bitter, until a nice sweetness rolls in to balance things out.

If you've had a bunch of indie Bowmores, you've likely come across some that feel as phenolic as the Kildalton distilleries' products, despite Bowmore's technically lower peat levels. This one comes across Ardbeggian at times (as in the unadorned versions of the Ten), or similar to the better versions of Kilchoman. While this cask lacks the balance and beauty of cask 960034, it gets serious points for framing well the Bowmore spirit without making it feel too raw or underaged. This was probably from a third-fill cask or a well-abused second-fill. If you have this bottle sitting in your whisky hoard—and why is this gathering dust after 6 years?—and you're a peathead, you'll dig this. If you enjoy a minimum of oak in your malt, this is your jam. If you're looking for grace, go to church.

Availability - Happy Hunting?
Pricing - I think I paid all of $60 for this. Oh, the days...
Rating - 88