Years back, Bowmore was one of the old vanguard producing malts that carried a gorgeous fruit profile, often tropical and exotic, moreso than the slightly one-dimensional releases of late. Trust me…I’ve tried them. These malts, primarily from the 60s, 70s and 80s are really something to behold if you can get your paws on ’em.
Many an eve has been spent on quiet ponderence (errr…sometimes rather boisterous) with members of The Collective as to just what happened to change things, and what it would take to get back on track. A few distilleries, we’ve noted, actually seem to be moving in the right direction of late. Won’t mention them here, but the next decade or so should be rather interesting.
I’m not the biggest fan of the new stable of Bowmore. Let’s get that out front first thing. I have tried several of them and to date, still reach for the 12 year old more often the others. Even that is only slightly better than middle of the road malt to me. Bowmore is held in such esteem that I immediately expect more from them. Perhaps this is unfair. Perhaps not. With well over 200 years of history and more awards than any other Scotch single malt, expectations are bound to be high.
But having said that…refer back to first paragraph. Bowmore has produced some of the greatest whiskies I have ever tasted. Where I used to be rather lukewarm to the distillery, I have more than come round.
Let’s move on to the Darkest itself…
There seems to be more smoke here than the 12 y.o., but a tad less peat. The peaty edge logically fading a bit with a few extra years in wood. I would sort of expect the smoke to peter out a bit too, but…doesn’t seem to have. The nose is smoky chocolate, treacle, sherry and bacon. Fairly fruity (but dark dried fruits) and a little grassy. There is something dark and menacing in the back fire and brimstone? Not entirely pleasant. Funnily enough…one of the eves I tried this, I did so with a group of others. One of them (Scott) said it “has a darker side to it”. True…very true.
The palate is slightly bitter but fairly mellow overall. The smoke and chocolate are primary here with the sweetness tagging along like a perky little brother. Tangy peat and fruit skin are there too. It is the smoke that lingers though, with a tart finale that trumpets its last fading call long after your final sip.
This is another malt that absolutely benefits from some oxidation. I can almost guarantee you’ll enjoy this bottle more after it has been open and sat for a couple of months (if you’re the sort who doesn’t drain them in days, that is).
– Reviewed by: Curt
– Photo: Curt