Ever heard of the French Whore Perfume Bowmore’s (FWP for short)? Have a read of this if you require some background, but essentially there seems to be a perfumy off-note in Bowmore’s from the 1980’s until the early 90’s.
The distillery denied that such a thing existed and the whole problem spun out of control thanks to the internet.
Now, I don’t think I’ve encountered one of those whiskies that are undrinkably perfumy as some would suggest but I have encountered a little bit of an off-note which comes in the form of a Parma Violet floral note that is quite artificial and odd.
I tasted two recently with this and thought I’d share…
Bowmore 1987 Dimensions 58.4%
Colour: Light Gold
Nose: Quite intense and peaty, mineral too, light florals in the background, some malt, chocolate and heather, earthy like the SMWS 3.2, pressed flowers, a very vague off note lurking... Rancid, like very far away vomit. The Parma Violets come out over time.
Taste: Intense arrival, smoky and mineral, tannins from the oak, some florals but the minerals have them overwhelmed, oily and earthy, dark chocolate and then a soapy note into the finish.
Finish: Long length. The FWP rears its ugly fishnets, Parma Violets are out in force, lavender. More earthy as it gets some air.
Bottled in 2006 at 18yo. The FWP isn't very bad here until the finish where it kinds of intrudes but this very much balances on a tightrope between brilliance and disaster, ending up being neither.
Bowmore 1996 Single Malts of Scotland 50.4%
Colour: Light Gold
Nose: Clean nose. Malt and sea spray at first nosing giving a Talisker vibe. Floral under that with Parma Violets, some lemon and cured meat. A bit of a slack nose, the meaty and malty notes are great but the Violets are fighting it, making it kind of 'spongey.'
Taste: Clean, lemon citrus and malt, some smoke building with dry oak and woody spice, ginger and some clove, oily texture, a little chocolate and sea salt, black pepper nearer the end. After a bit there's that floral undertone that is present in the nose, not quite an off note but it’s holding it back.
Finish: Long length. Chewy and oily, lemon and malt, some chocolate and black pepper. Nice finish.
Some of the 80's floral notes here, which I haven't found in many others (even from the 80's). This really took me by surprise because the guys at Elixir Distiller’s (or whatever they call themselves nowdays) are normally really good. This wasn’t cheap either…
And now let us remind ourselves that Bowmore is amazing:
Bowmore 1995 Carn Mor 48.3%
Nose: Ah, a tropical one. Mango, pineapple, soot and ash, cooling mint, cold fireplace, really good nose. Light malt, clean white sugar, pear and apple too. Complex chocolate and engine oil after a bit. Old style Bowmore.
Taste: Soft then building this tropical smoky flavour, mango and pineapple, oily mouthfeel, quite an intense taste, oak and spice balanced awesomely with lifting orange toping it all off!
Finish: Long length. Juicy! Pineapple juice, orange juice and lime juice! So good! A little salt.
Bottled 2018 as a German exclusive. Expensive but 'Old style Bowmore' should be the only note needed to sell it. Remember that the Morrison in ‘Morrison Mackay’ is the same as the Morrison is ‘Morrison Bowmore’ and you might start to see a connection between Carn Mor and stunning Bowmore casks…
Thanks for reading!
Scotch Reviews #713-#715
Whisky Network Reviews #850-#852
Network Average: 75.1
Best Score: 94
Worst Score: 12
60-64 Just About OK
65-69 Ok to Good
75-79 Very Good
Full Disclosure Disclaimer: I currently work as a Brand Ambassador for Penderyn Distillery. The views expressed here are purely my own and do not reflect the views of Penderyn Distillery or The Welsh Whisky Company. I try to maintain as much objectivity as I can but feel free to take my reviews with as big a pinch of salt as you like. Furthermore, my rating scale is NOT based on a Parker type wine scoring scale or a school/college/university % or A-F grade score. You can find more on my scoring here. I apologise for any seemly low or 'bad' scores given with my system and I am sorry I can't say only nice things. Please keep in mind that I am ethically compromised and I am unable to produce 100% unbiased reviews.