Another whisky I tried for the first time on Islay around two years ago, give or take.
A handful of sodden reprobates and I had just finished an unforgettable experience down in the No. 1 vaults beneath the distillery. We were wrapping up the ‘Craftsman’s Tour’ with a couple bonus drams up in the Bowmore lounge overlooking the shores of Loch Indaal. It was a sort of ‘pick your poison, boys’ kind of affair led by our wonderful guide Heather. Among many other malts sampled that afternoon, this was foremost among my choices. Not gonna lie…we were already more than a couple drams deep – a few of which were drunk directly from the cask – so I can’t promise that my senses were in any condition to properly assess the inherent quality of the malt at the time, but do I recall not being willing to drop the ~£100-150 (or whatever it was) to bring home a bottle. That tells me I didn’t think it was all that exceptional.
And to be honest with you…I still don’t. It is, however, an awful lot better than I recall from that intense dramming session. That may sound like damning with faint praise, but that would be selling the whisky short. This is actually very good stuff. When the opportunity presented itself to revisit this oddball limited edition Bowmore (via the generous offer of a couple of friends of mine*) I leapt at it. Sitting down with the glass once again was like being yanked back to that moment in time. A tired group of friends…our last day on Islay…our last distillery tour on the island…and an unforgettable piece of my ‘whisky life’.
Springtide was so named for the period when the earth, sun and moon are aligned. Apparently that is the window in which this whisky was distilled. I’m not sure what significance we’re supposed to believe that that concept has for this NAS Oloroso sherry cask-matured malt, but I guess we’ll concede points for originality (if not clarity and forthcomingness in marketing. Ahem…age statement, anyone?).
All gimmicky and shit, for sure, but still tasty. Worth trying if you can find it.
Nose: Sweet smoked dry fruit. Grapes. Sunflower seeds. Oily. A wee bit of tar, ash and rubber. A tangy meatiness. Stirfry sauce. Citrus. Tobacco and dried cherries. Eucalyptus. Some chocolate and salt taffee. Florals emerge late and almost ghost-like.
Palate: Spiced chocolate sauce and lapsang souchong tea. Rum-soaked fruitcake. Leaves quite a taste of smoke and grape skins in the mouth. Or maybe plum skins. Medicinal in a fruity cough syrup kinda way. This is heavy sherry and moderate smoke. Neat.
Thoughts: May not be to everyone’s liking, but it works a treat for me.
– Reviewed by: Curt
– Photo: Curt