...where distraction is the main attraction.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Let FWP Die, also a 1989 Bowmore review

photo source
Though I am among those who have used the term "French Whore Perfume" to describe the characteristics of 1980s Bowmore, I would like to entreat everyone to bury the term altogether.

Aside from it having become lazy shorthand utilized by no one who has met une prostituée française, the term leaves every Gallic streetwalker pondering, "Why am I getting stigmatized? The real problematic odor is French John Sweaty Ass (aka FJSA)." I mean, we poets haven't labelled the Bowmore problem Violets, Soap And Failure, have we? No, we're saying the whisky smells like something a female sex worker wears to cover up the scent of previous customers so that she can be sexually alluring for the next man. Yet we're using a word that has long been separated from its denotation, and now has merged with its connotation, just like "slut".

Sure, worse words can be used to directly link whisky with women (and sexuality). But FWP goes there. And I'm publicly prodding this problem because I hope this boy's club of a Scotch community will think about this, if just for a sober moment, even as we're served by an industry that still struggles with the idea of gender equality amongst its potential customer base. You don't need to be woke to know that the words "French Whore Perfume" will age even worse than "The Jane Walker Special Edition".

I am happy to see FWP referenced less frequently than before, but we can thank the scarcity of those infamous Bowmores for that. So, my dudes, let us allow FWP to go the way of that crummy chapter of Bowmore's history. Let's let FWP die.

And now, a 1980s Bowmore.

Thank you to My Annoying Opinions (hey, he's not the only one with annoying opinions, you know) for the sample. I have no idea when we did this sample swap.

Distillery: Bowmore
Independent Bottler: The Whisky Agency
Series: Liquid Sun
Region: Islay, Scotland
Age: 22 years (1989 - 2011)
Maturation: bourbon hogshead
Bottle count: 256
Alcohol by Volume: 50.7%
Chillfiltered? No
Colored? No

No Violets, Soap and Failure on this nose. It's a tree root ball, dense roots and soil wrapped up in burlap. Charred honeydew. Iodine and chalk. Lemonade powder. Clementines. A smoky nut brittle. The palate a light peat, almost mesquite (sorry for the rhyme). Burnt, mineral, with a perky zing. A tangy green note that I want to say is cactus, but probably isn't. A bit of agave nectar, but also añejo tequila. The charred melon comes back to the finish. A brisk bitterness meets soft peat smoke. Agave nectar and limey citrus.

DILUTED TO ~40%abv
The nose gets fruitier, like peaches and melons. Milder smoke. Wet ashes, wet sand. The palate is still very sharp, almost (here it comes) austere. Mineral, tart, salty, bitter. Chile peppers and a hint of smoke. Tangy citrus and chile peppers in the finish. Mild sweetness and smoke.

As if I haven't written enough words today.

This whisky noses and drinks very well at its modest full strength. The peat never dominates, nor does the fruit or minerals. That balance holds, and maybe even improves, with air. Nothing about it is a knockout, but it is very good multitasking whisky, especially when snow falls in April.

Availability - Probably sold out a half decade ago
Pricing - I think it sold for just a little bit over €100 back in the day
Rating - 87

1 comment:

  1. UPDATE. I received an excellent note from Ganga who has much more experience than I with "FWP"-era whiskies:

    1. FWP really is about the perfume and not the floral.
    2. The strongest period for FWP was 1982 through 1987.
    3. In 1987, those notes started to tail off, even drifting to more of a floral note than perfume. This continued through about 1993. Some bottles were not even subject to any element of FWP.
    4. FWP is not limited to Bowmore but can be found in other Morrison Bowmore products - Glen Garioch and Auchentoshan from the same period.

    My experience says:

    A. Don't buy any Bowmore, Glen Garioch, or Auchentoshan distilled between 1982 and 1993 without first trying it.
    B. Bowmore today still does not harken back to the 1960s and 1970s versions.
    C. Bowmore distillery releases are much more floral today than IB single casks.
    D. Floral is lavender of which I have a bunch in the yard.

    If you haven't had pre-1980s Bowmore, try to find some independent casks from 2001 or 02. They are starting to have the grapefruit come through again.

    The term FWP will die of its own accord because the only releases still coming out today are too expensive to have many reviews.