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I have ruined my girlfriend. Not by tarnishing her good name, mind you, or absconding with all of her savings. No, I ruined her by introducing her to Bowmore 12 Year Old. This fine ol' standby had become a daily dram, and it was just getting too much. "At $60 a pop, I can't afford this! Is there a cheaper Bowmore available?" The Small Batch isn't that much less, so I suggested trying the McClelland's Islay. There must be a cheaper way for her to enjoy her favourite distillery!
But McClelland's does not disclose what distillery it comes from, you may say. Well, I'm about 99.9% sure that's what it is, as the McClelland's brand is owned by Morrison Bowmore. That is the only Islay distillery they own, so it stands to reason that this is young NAS Bowmore. But is it an acceptable substitute? Does it measure up?
The colour is a pale yellowish gold. On the nose there is vanilla, honey and butterscotch, with peat woven throughout. Medicinal and floral. Lemon curd and apricots. Not much oak; you can tell this is quite young, but water helps even it out.
Quite briny on the palate - and oakier than the nose - with more vanilla as well. The butterscotch is further in the background. Again, very medicinal. Peaty and sweet, but too spirity - though that is corrected with a drop of water.
The finish is rough, with restrained peat, apple skins and heather honey. There are definitely certain notes that remind one of Bowmore - so I'm quite sure that's what this is. But unfortunately, it is not up to snuff. Although it improves with water, it is no substitute. Pam let out a woeful sigh, turned her back on it, and poured herself a Bowmore 12.