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Bowmore Small Batch

No Strings Attached

0 1480

@RantavahtiReview by @Rantavahti

2nd Feb 2015

0

  • Nose
    20
  • Taste
    20
  • Finish
    20
  • Balance
    20
  • Overall
    80

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Distribution of ratings for this: brand user

Bowmore Small Batch is matured in first and second fill bourbon casks. Surprisingly light in every step of the tasting, so a mild disappointment coming from Islay.

And I'm not talking about lack of peat or smoke only, felt like this Bowmore was flat, without character. That's why it literally felt like No Strings Attached, while I was sipping this dram.

I know I'm being too harsh, because Bowmore Small Batch is okay. 80 points proves it. But I guess 80 points isn't enough from a famous Islay distillery. They've set the standards so high.

Nose: Spicy with peat, honey and vanilla. Kinda like a bourbon nose. Peat stays on the background with hints of lime.

Taste: Thin with grassy notes and citrus. Light, salty and peaty.

Finish: Spices and dryness. Nice notes of lime again. Little bit of peat smoke.

Balance: First Islay dram to be so light in every way. For me at least. Even Bunnahabhain whiskies tend to be stronger, more characteristic. Bigger alcohol per volume level might have made it better.

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14 comments

@sailorman
sailorman commented

Indeed, a strange Islay Whisky. Small Batch is substituting Legend, which I liked far better: an almost citrusy nose, but a delicate smokiness, but without any wow factor. I am not sure if Bowmore is producing this new expression for the North American market: bourbon casks, small batch (wording more commonly used for bourbon). The nose is weird, a mixture of fruitiness (geranium?) and smoke. This is not a very felicitous combination, at 40% very thin. The only pro was the price, about US$30 (including taxes). You are absolutely right, Rantavahti: no strings attached.

4 years ago 0

@Victor
Victor commented

@Rantavahti, thanks for your very informative review. It is good to know about these affordable whiskies, which ones are worth the money and which ones not. While I am one of those who can enjoy the young Bowmore style, this Small Batch does not look like one I would ever buy. 40% abv by itself serves for me as being on the borderline as a dealbreaker.

@sailorman, I thank you for your comparison of Bowmore Small Batch to Bowmore Legend. That tells me a lot. I do like Legend. If this is much lesser to you, it sounds like Small Batch is something I would prefer to avoid...except to sample, of course.

4 years ago 0

@Rantavahti
Rantavahti commented

Thanks for your comments. I haven't tried Legend yet, but I'm sure it has to be better than this. And yes, I won't recommend anyone to buy this, just sample it if you can.

4 years ago 0

@Ol_Jas
Ol_Jas commented

Would someone care to explain the "no strings attached" allusions here? I think I'm missing something.

I wonder why they bothered to create this new bottling. Is it really that much different from the Legend, either in its makeup or its market position? Maybe the new brand lets them charge a few buckaroos more than the Legend without actually being seen as raising the price on the Legend? The Legend's gotta be just about the cheapest distillery-identified Islay single malt; maybe it's got a significant market of regular buyers who are pretty price-conscious? Just spit-balling here.

4 years ago 0

@sailorman
sailorman commented

OlJas, I can guarantee that Legend is totally different. It is an unsophisticated Islay for beginners, but I think they ceased production. It is true that Bowmore has the lowest distillery-identified price on the market, maybe the lowest quality, too. Mystery single malts such as Islay Storm or Finlaggan (in the States) are far more drinkable... and cheaper.

4 years ago 0

@YakLord
YakLord commented

I tried the Small Batch at a sponsored cask launch back in November, and wasn't overly impressed. We were told that it was aged in 2nd fill ex-bourbon barrels as an attempt to showcase the spirit rather than the oak, but I found it really disappointing. The nose was quite interesting, a very restrained peat, but then, as @rantavahti notes, it pretty much fell flat on the palate and finish.

Based on cost alone, I wouldn't buy a bottle - where I am it's the same price as the Bowmore 12 year, and only $20 less than the Tempest 10yr...

4 years ago 0

@Rantavahti
Rantavahti commented

@OlJas that "No Strings Attached" was just an expression describing, how this whisky doesn't rock my emotions in any way. When I started making reviews, it was fun to make a movie reference in every whisky, because movies and whisky are my two passions in life. Ever since the referencing has stuck on my reviews (sometimes it's very far fetched, sometimes very appropriate). No Strings Attached is a romantic comedy involving Ashton Kutcher, so I had to use it, when talking about whisky lacking in character :)

4 years ago 0

@Ol_Jas
Ol_Jas commented

Ah, it's a movie reference. And now I understand why I didn't get it. Thanks!

4 years ago 0

smoothhead commented

Yes tend to agree, nothing wrong with it but it lacks any real character - its not bad quality wise but is a bit simple and a bit bland. easy to drink but unsatisfying..won't buy it again - the only reason i bought it was it was a special deal.

3 years ago 0

@Ol_Jas
Ol_Jas commented

My guess is that the reason for this whisky's lacklusterality is its ABV. Young (scotch) whisky still in the barrel still has a pretty high ABV. The means by which you bottle a high-ABV whisky at a low ABV is, of course, TONS OF WATER.

A while back, I had a topic on Connosr about how we should talk about a whisky being "DILUTED TO 40% (or 43%, or whatever)" instead of "BOTTLED AT 40%." I suspect that "bottled at" is an industry term that drinkers just adopted by chance, to the detriment of our appreciation for just how much water they're putting in our whisky.

3 years ago 0

@Nozinan
Nozinan commented

@OlJas - I remember that discussion and I agree with you. Diluted to and bottled at mean very different things. An older whisky could be bottled at 43% and be at cask strength.

One thing I'm less sure about is the claim by some that "more alcohol=more flavour". While I agree that a higher ABV whisky has bolder flavour, I would guess that most of that higher flavour is related to the fact that the flavour isn't diluted down with water...

3 years ago 0

@Ol_Jas
Ol_Jas commented

Nozinan, I agree with you completely. "Aged barrel contents = more flavor!"

The legendary Springbanks that they used to dilute with old underproof barrels would be Exhibit A. Or at least, they would be if we had any. And if we were willing to share.

3 years ago 0

@Rantavahti
Rantavahti commented

@OlJas @Nozinan - you both make a good point, it's funny how (especially with NAS) the mouth starts yearning for big ABV level stuff until you bump into whisky like Bushmills 21YO for example, and remember it's not always about the alcohol per volume level

3 years ago 0

@cricklewood
cricklewood commented

When first tasting this I wasn't impressed but I have sat with a few drams and have warmed up to it. It's got this dirty peat thing going, Camphor,smoked mackerel & lime, less of the overt vanilla.

The mouth-feel is terribly thin and that's where it drops the ball, a little more oiliness (no mention of filtration method) & a few degrees more would perhaps help some of the flavors express themselves better. That said I think it has a certain charm, that it doesn't bash your tastebuds so much, it's more of a summer dram of sorts.

3 years ago 0

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