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I was excited about trying this one. I was told by some online reviews as well as some friends that this was something I would like. I enjoy Islay whiskies, but I have been looking for a lightly peated whisky that is rich, sherried, but doesn't hit you like a ton of bricks. As with most collectors, I want a range of whiskies to both offer to guests and to enjoy for myself. The light honeyed ones, the rich sherried ones, the smokey peated ones, etc. But I have yet to find a great whisky that marries peat and sherry for a reasonable price. I was hoping this one was it. It almost is.
On paper, it has everything I was hoping for. It's a Bowmore, so we know that it will be peated without being a "peat monster." It's 15 years old, which suggests a somewhat mature dram with a bit of youthful vitality. Three of those years were spent in a sherry cask, which suggests as certain level of fruity richness. It's got all of the elements needed to be that perfect dram to offer a sherry lover who wants to gently venture into Islay territory, or vice-versa. It's good, but it does seem to fall short in some areas.
I'm ranting. Here we go.
Nose: Smoke, a bit of chocolate, and a faint hint of fruits. The fruits could be more prominent, though.
Palate: Cedar, a hint of pine, oak. Certainly a lot of woody flavours here; I feel like I'm drinking a forest (in a good way). The spices and fruits come through next, with some ever-present smoke worked in there as well. I wish the sherry flavours had more time to spread there wings right about now. Seems like there's some untapped richness here, but it flies by all too quickly between the wooden blast and the smokey finish. I do get some cherry flavours, some red apple, and some zesty spice, but they're all a bit too fleeting.
Finish: Dry, with smoke, dark cherries, and tannin.
I'm afraid my search for the pefect marriage between sherry and peat must go on. Certainly there's an abundance of whiskies I have yet to try that may fit the bill. I was hoping I'd found it in the Bowmore Darkest, but sadly I haven't. The elements are all there, but I feel like the flavours never really marry, but instead end up competing for my attention. The peatiness tends to win out most of the time. I find myself having to sift through two competing flavours that never truly work together. Sidenote: Feel free to message me or reply to this review if you have any suggestions (ones that aren't extravagantly priced, if you please).
Overall it's not a bad whisky, but it just doesn't seem to fit the bill. Also, while it wasn't too expensive, there are certainly better whiskies out there that cost less. Cheers.