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Monday, December 21, 2020

Bowmore 21 year old 1989 Blackadder, cask 12861

It's been more than two years since I reviewed an independently bottled Bowmore. I shall end this blog's longest indie Bowmore drought ever with a trio of single casks this week, starting with one that was distilled at the end of the difficult Bowmore period, call it what you will. By the time the late '80s arrived, some of the more troubling distillate notes were in the past. I hope that's the case with this one. I'm cool with flowers blossoms, floral soap and floral perfume not so much.

Here's the data:

So used to the bold peat on recent Bowmore indie casks, I am surprised by the mildness of the peat on this whisky's nose. Flowers and fruits read much louder: think cantaloupe, yellow plums and white nectarines. In the background, a quirky Loch Lomond-style funk merges well with a molasses note. The palate begins very hot and very sweet with some vegetal peat on the side. There's a mix of shouga sembei (Japanese ginger cookies) and mint candy up front, hints of caramel and cherry cola in the background. A new note develops after a while, a curious old-blend-like thing that I can only attempt to describe as ink, mold and paper. A sweet smoke appears in the finish, followed by charred veg and toasted oak spices.

DILUTED TO ~46%abv, or 1½ tsp per 30mL whisky
Quite some variety in the nose now. Vegetal peat smoke, lemon candy, carpet, leather and baby poop. The palate also meanders all over the place. At first it's a blend of candy canes, ginger cookies and peanut butter. Then there's this note, it tastes like I'm licking the label, and it sort of takes over everything. Luckily it doesn't carry too far into the finish, rather we're back to the mint, smoke and pepper.

Despite the whisky being quite hot at full power, I do not recommend diluting it to 46%abv because all cohesion is shattered and things start getting strange. And not in a fun way. When neat, the whisky seems to stay close to the spirit, with cask interference held to a minimum. As noted by Ganga in the comments section on my most recent FWP post, the floral notes here are (thankfully) of actual flower blossoms, not soap. And that prevents the nose from dropping to wacky bad from its wacky goodness. The neat palate is unmemorable aside from the inky, moldy note, and the finish is a bit plain and short. This cask is most notable for being a relatively successful Bowmore from this period, with the italics on "relatively".

Availability - Sold out
Pricing - ???
Rating - 83 (but keep it neat!)