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Adelphi Bowmore, 19 years old, distilled in 1996, refill sherry cask, 214 bottles from the cask at 57.2% abv.
Adelphi, where do you start? One of my favorite bottlers, I've never had a bad bottle from them, even a ok bottle from them. Everything I've tried from them has been stellar.
To say I'm a bit of a fan boy, doesn't quite cover it. If you were to look into my whisky collection, you'd see a massive amount of Gordon & MacPhail and Adelphi and if you were to ask me to choose between the two of them, I just don't think that I could.
So when late last year Ben Baranow, the importer of Adelphi into Australia asked me if I'd like to meet with Alex Bruce, one of the heads of Adelphi, well I was like a school girl finding out she's going to actually get to meet her rockstar crush, something that I'm sure made Alex most uncomfortable.
Most of the Adelphi that comes into Australia disappears into my collection and this Bowmore was no exception, however as much as one says "I love that distillery, I love the cask type, I love the bottler" but without trying that bottle, that whisky, you never know.
When it was confirmed that Alex was coming into Perth, I put together an Adelphi tasting, which featured the wildly insane and incredible Glover 22 year old, but with a line up of 6 whiskies from Adelphi, definitely not the world's cheapest independent bottler, and one of those whiskies running at the cost of $2500, I had to be cautious about just what whiskies would be tasted, which meant that the bad boys, would be out of budget, something I regretted and left me hopeful that at some point I'd get to try some of my Adelphi's before I opened them.
Two days before the event my Adelphi's arrive, and I'm informed that my selection is just not good enough....that we're going to be trying the 19 year old Bowmore....and I'm in heaven!
That night when I get home I exercise the whisky hosts prerogative, which is opening the bottles and sampling the wares. So right off the bat I'm cracking the Bowmore. I've had a bottle for a year, but now I get to finally try it....
And it does not disappoint, in fact, it blows me away.
See folks rave about peat and sherry, smoke and sherry, and while I agree it's a stunning combination, it's a stunning combination that is rarely done right or well. Too much sherry and the whisky feels...lopsided, sickly sweet, just not right.....not enough sherry, what's the point?
However when it's done right....mind blowing.
Adelphi has done this right, in fact dead fucking right...a refill sherry cask and this whisky is all about the subtlety. The smoke is there, refined as one would expect in an older Islay, but there. The sherry is there, all sexy like and having it's say, but again in balance.
The nose is .... probably the best nose I've ever had off of a Bowmore, a nose I could happily enjoy for days. Tropical fruit, guava, mango and rockmelon, smoke, gentle smoke, strawberries, sea spray and hay on the nose, but there's so much freaking fruit!
There's whiskies that smell so good that you actually almost don't want to drink them, you just want to nose them all night long.
But no point in just nosing, time for a taste!
More smoke on the palate then there is on the nose, a small amount of heat on the palate, but to be expected at cask strength, so salty, so very salty and then rich dark chocolate. Some dried tobacco, and then on the far back palate, the red fruit starts to come through, again the strawberries then raspberries. It is so very delicious....the raspberries actually turn into chocolate covered raspberries, something you'd have for Valentines Day, with the smoke coming back into the foreground again.
The finish is dry, so dry, with smoky chocolate lingering.
Fuck me I'm glad I've got a full bottle of this, so freaking good. At almost $300 a bottle now, it's not cheap, but it is so very good.