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Monday, April 9, 2018

Bowmore 17 year old 1996 First Editions

Like last Wednesday's Bowmore, here's another 17yo distilled in 1996 and bottled by an independent company. And it's another bottle that I recently split with Jordan of Chemistry of the Cocktail. For this review, I tasted the two Bowmores side by side to get a better perspective of each.

Unlike my experiences with AD Rattray, First Editions whiskies have always underwhelmed me. Of course, I've tried a grand total of four before this year, but I wanted to give them one last good try before adding them to my Meh List. So, basically, it's all riding on this.

Distillery: Bowmore
Independent Bottler: Hunter Laing
Series: First Editions
Region: Islay, Scotland
Age: 17 year old (1996-2013)
Maturation: ex-bourbon cask
Bottle: 155 of 266
Alcohol by Volume: 52.8%
Chillfiltered? No
Caramel Colorant? No
(from a bottle split)

This is gentler on the nose than the Rattray cask, right up front. There's brown sugar, green veg, lots of toasted barley and ocean-y peat. It shifts a little bit with time, turning up notes of barn, cherry candy and vanilla. The palate starts off "super mineral". Early notes are salt, lemons, grass, mint leaves. After some time it opens up, revealing hints of fresh stone fruit, peach candy and blackberry syrup. The long finish is simple but pleasant and tingly. It's lightly sweet with some of the late palate's fruit and mineral notes. The peat reads more salty than smoky.

DILUTED TO ~46%abv, or a little less than 1 tsp water per 30mL whisky
The nose is now full of mint, honeydew and grass. Some vanilla bean, brown sugar and mild peat smoke. The palate is similar to the neat version. More on sweets, ginger and lime candy. Less on minerals. The finish is also sweeter with much less peat. The lime candy note shows up here too.

I can't believe I'm typing this, but I liked the First Editions Bowmore more than the AD Rattray cask. There's more fruit in this one and just the right amount of oak. Both had a good dosage of mineral notes, but this one feels more balanced. The peat is more consistent here as well. The Rattray cask offers more raw spirit and violence, which is why that one needs water. The First Editions Bowmore feels more mature, and works with or without dilution. Plus, it's $30 cheaper. So, it's a win for First Editions.

Availability - Just a few US retailers
Pricing - $130-$150
Rating - 87

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