What is love? It's about fate. You met. You saw her from afar and became mesmerized. You got closer without trying to look obvious. Your eyes meet. You quickly look away. You look back, and damn! She caught you! It's ok because she grants you the slightest, I mean the slightest, of smiles. That's how it started for me at a luncheon eight years ago in a restaurant. She's my partner in life today.
It started a few years before that with another passion of my life: whisky. Oh, she can be a most cruel mistress. I still see her regularly. She can be mesmerizing too. Sometimes she smiles and we have lots of fun, other times she is in a foul mood. Her kisses can turn bitter and grainy on a whim.
Bowmore 15 years old "Darkest"
This lady of a malt is very dark in color. Very dark for a 15 year old malt. Matter of fact, the darkest, think Claudia Cardinale smouldering in the 1966 spaghetti western The Professionals.
While Claudia is sexy, the Jim Morrison-esque gloom of this malt has me worried.
Forget the subdued sultriness of Claudia Cardinale. I am now fearing the darkness and unpredictability of Courtney Love, Liz Taylor or Judy Garland. Tremendously beautiful and talented in their day, but lurking just below the surface of their smiles is something not quite right. You knew they were trouble, but couldn't stay away.
Coal, lit barbecue briquettes, smoking North Atlantic seaside bonfire.
Smooth to start. An odd combination of Islay peat that is mingling with sherry flavors. So, on the one hand, you taste the peat and iodine of Islay that meets the sherry flavors you normally identify with a Highland malt like Glenfarclas or Oban. Think a sea surge of peat/smoke meeting crates of chocolate and raisins from a lorry that rolled over into the bay. Sudden, accidental and unnatural. It just doesn't work well. Something seems a bit off. I taste something close to flower scented soap. Lilacs.
Lime slices in ice water with medicinal notes, sea salt and how can it be? Ginger.
I was expecting a lot more from this Islay single malt. I reviewed Bowmore 12 year old (click here) a while ago and was impressed. Me, not being much of a peat and smoke head, did enjoy the Bowmore 12. It was a gentle treatment of classic Islay flavors that was a great starter malt for those drinkers who want to put their pinkie toe in the Islay sea of malts in the marketplace. Accordingly, I figured three extra years plus the last two in Oloroso sherry casks should deliver complexity and additional refinement over the 12 year old. Not so! I prefer Bowmore 12 years to the 15 any day of the week.
As you have probably surmised from my comments above, this malt is seriously dark. I wonder if E150 caramel coloring has been added. I am trying to ascertain the answer to that through some contacts I have in the industry, but that will take time. When I know, you will know.
Now, you may be thinking, what's the big deal about caramel? Some argue that the addition of caramel in tiny quantities is of no consequence, and just creates uniformity of color that assures the consumer there is no variability of quality. The trick is not too add too much. Too much and you may be affecting the flavor profile. Possibly introducing bitterness. Mind you others will debate the bitterness in whisky can come from the European wood and youthful whiskies. Youth is not a factor here. So maybe the wood management was not the greatest. Who knows?
Update - - - - In Germany the words "mit farbstoff" appear on the labels of all Bowmores. The German words basically translate as: colourant added
If Bowmore 15 was non-chill filtered I suspect they would have trumpeted that fact on the packaging. Alas, no mention of non-chill filtered production. Again, when a whisky is chill filtered an argument can be raised that the flavor profile is less than what it could be.
This single malt was not cheap. In general terms, it was priced reasonably for 15 year old single malts, but any reasonableness goes out the window when you taste it. It tastes more like a 12 year old entry level malt. Where is the complexity of flavors? Just not happening.
The bloom on this rose is like my first affection for Bowmore 15. Fading quickly. Love can be fleeting!
P.S. Guys! Remember texting is not an acceptable manner of delivery of a Valentine! Nor is emailing an electronic card (an oxymoron if there ever was one!) Get a card, write a thoughtful note and pick up some flowers. Make it two dozen red roses!
Copyright © Jason Debly, 2009-2012. All rights reserved. Any and all use is prohibited without permission. Please note the photograph of the rose at the top of this post was taken by Waseem-79. It appears on this blog with his permission. All rights to the photo belong to Waseem-79. The second photograph of the rose at the bottom of this post was taken by ..A.C.REB... His photograph appears here with his permission. All rights to the photo remain with the photographer.