Islay whiskies hold almost God like status in the scotch world owing to its unique maritime and rich peaty-fire ember like character. It’s very likely that every whisky forum has at least once had its share of Laphy / Ardie cults religiously backing their die hard views. So when you are presented with an Islay, expectations can typically end high.
The Bowmore is no stranger either and has had its roots since 1779, with its origins as with most distilleries at the time spawning out of a farm. So tied is it with the Islay that its name in Gaelic translates to the “Great Reef”! The No 1 is their entry level expression, introduced to replace their ‘small batch’ release and is matured in first fill bourbon barrels. The whisky takes its name from the distillery’s ‘No. 1 Vaults’, one of the world’s oldest maturation warehouses.
ABV : 40%
Eye: Deep Gold; Caramel colouring
Nose: Caramel and sherry nuances infused with peat and wood char, cantaloupe with powdered cloves and cinnamon.
Taste: Vanilla and brown sugar, soon greeted by seaweed and moist tobacco. Some sweetness emanating from raisins, mild hints of pear and coconut alongside some grain. Trailing behind is the spice from bay leaves and pepper.
Finish: Medium – Peaty and grassy.
The No 1 is a peat affinite expression that summons a loving warmth on the palate owing to its spice. A delightful dram that finds itself on thin ice once those primary driving flavours begin to sober down. The whisky is guilty of being very one dimensional in character; I would have loved the Bowmore should it have had a bit more complexity. I almost felt it was a bit watered down with only the peat holding the spirit together.
For AUD $70, the Bowmore offers decent value but does lack lustre, missing several checks for what otherwise could have been a lovely Islay expression from the distillery.
Preference : Neat