What better way to go into 800 Scotch reviews than Bowmore, the supremely hate-able distillery that made some of the best whiskies ever created, then some of the worst and now some of the most mediocre.
The 80’s was a hard time for Bowmore, made worse by the denial of an obvious problem. But thankfully they managed to make some better whiskies into the 90’s.
The problem was dubbed ‘French Whore Perfume’ or FWP by one creative whisky blogger and the name has stuck.
Today I’ve got three from the 80’s and early 90’s.
Bowmore 12 (1980's) 40%
Nose: Woah! Very odd, metallic and floral, soapy in the extreme, complex though in its own way, slightly meaty, parma violets (of course), watery perfume, some floral soft smoke.
Taste: Weird, strange mouthfeel I've never had from a whisky before, floral and super FWP, parma violets, bath bombs, lavender and violet, metallic mouthfeel and thin, very thin. No Smoke.
Finish: Medium/Long length. Some floral smoke and spice, weird. Ugh.
Unscoreable! Haha No, it’s just very very odd. Very much the ugly side of FWP.
Bowmore 1990 ‘Earth, Wind, Fire!’ 46%
Nose: Tropical, salty with ozone and v Bowmore, quite complexly floral w/ some violet, daffodil and sunflower, darker oakiness but mostly quite bright, lemon peel, aged ham maybe?
Taste: Soft arrival, lemon cake, salty with smoked fish and then amazing chocolate, malt and peat, dark earthiness with some heather, growing oils with more peat.
Finish: Medium length. Very soft finish, mostly about the mouthfeel and oils.
Bottled late 2018 from Wemyss. A little out of balance early/middle of the palate. I’ve tried a few of these older Bowmore’s from Wemyss now and none have lived up to the incredible 1987 ‘Sweet, Peat Posy.’ They just haven’t been as peaty it seems, and therefore haven’t aged as powerfully or as complex.
Bowmore 1992 Red Wine Matured 53.5%
Nose: Meaty, muscular and bold. Red wine put out fire, coals and ash and soot, quite powerful, blood orange, cigar, leather, very dark chocolate and espresso. A few florals hidden underneath. Chocolate mousse. Really great meld of red wine and spirit. Dirty in a good way too.
Taste: Soft and sweet, blood orange, chocolate, peaty malt, coals and ash, black pepper, orange liqueur, pretty peaty and intense for Bowmore actually, brown sugar, molasses.
Finish: Short/Medium length. A bust of fruit, then burnt heather and malt and chocolate.
Bottled at 16yo. Good to remind ourselves that they make some of the best whisky in the world occasionally! This whisky not only surprised me but really amazed. I’m not normally a big fan of red wine and peat (or red wine finishes on whisky at all really) because balance is hard to reach, but this one makes it seem easy.
Thanks for reading!
Scotch Reviews #798-#800
Whisky Network Reviews #950-#952
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 the Global 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.