[Review] Bowmore - 19 years old French Oak Barrique 48.9%

Bowmore is the very first bottle of single malt I have ever bought for myself. It was Bowmore small batch from my local supermarket and it got me straight into whisky and particularly peated Islay. With time and experience, I have moved away from Bowmore's main range. The NAS from supermarkets are great for a summer high-ball I have found but the 12 tastes too manufactured for me, the 18 I tried at the distillery was disappointing, the 15 is probably the best of the bunch. However, I have also realised that cask strength releases were way more to my taste. The 10 Tempest was very good, the Devil's casks were good but got quickly overpriced and the 15 Laimrig was superb, just now discontinued as well. More recently, I tried the Vault Edition, which was decent (but a little overpriced...) and some of the Vitner's series which I really enjoyed.
So when the PR company Hope and Glory got in touch with me on behalf of Edrington Beam-Suntory, offering to send me a bottle of the Amazon exclusive 19 years old for review, I wasn't sure which way my taste buds would go.

The 19 has been exclusively matured in ex-first fill French oak barriques which have contained some St Julien red wine from Château Lagrange. It is bottled at 48.9% which I doubt is cask strength but a decent strength nonetheless. There is no information regarding colouring or filtration but I hope the nice ruby gold colour is natural and at 48.9% I would also expect a non-chillfiltered product.

So let's see what this very promising single malt is like...

Nose: Fruity with vanilla and honey, the higher alcohol content or the peat aren't in your face. I get a gentle peat/wood smoke in the background, hints of salt, some rich red berries, tanic stewed fruit, warming spices, oak, red current jam, some caramel too and a little tar. A great nose mixing fruity sweetness, wood spiciness and smoky saltiness. 

Palate: Oak barrels filled with fresh fruit, red berries again turning more acidic with grapefruit and orange marmalade bitterness, light smoke, fizzy, hints of tar again mixed with rubber and iodine, coal and cold campfire. A little time and air gives it a little more salt.

Finish: Grapes/wine notes are more present and still some saltiness, oak (drying), gentle smoke, raisins, cedar wood, ash, cold smoke.

With water: The nose gets a little softer with more sweetness. The arrival on the palate is sweeter too with some toffee notes before becoming fizzier towards the end. The finish gets more ash and cold smoke.

When I opened the bottled, I wondered what would I do if I didn't particularly like this Bowmore. It was sent to me for free by Edrington Beam-Suntory and when you get something for free you always feel you owe the person sending it to you a positive review. However, I run the blog not for profit but for my enjoyment and as a way to keep track of what I experience on my whisky journey, so remaining true to my sense is a must. And to be honest I didn't need to worry that much as I think this is a cracking single malt. The combination of first-fill barriques and Bowmore peat works a treat, creating a wonderfully fruity, salty and smoky experience. The only negative in my mind is the price (around £129 in the UK) which I is a little steep in my opinion, especially considering the 18 year-old from the Vintner's trilogy was around £90.

Thank you very much to the Edrington Beam-Suntory team for sending me this delicious bottle. It is being much appreciated and shared!



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