Auchentoshan Virgin Oak and Glen Garioch Virgin Oak the release of the Bowmore
Virgin Oak does not come as a surprise. I am surprised, though, by the fact
that Bowmore decided to release this at cask strength (the other two were
bottled at 48%) and moreover as the Feis Ile 2015 bottling. Then it must be
excellent, no? Only 1.000 bottles were launched at the festival (700 at the
festival itself and another 300 on Bowmore Day on 27th May 2015).
They are all gone now, of course.
The nose is smoky and
sweet. It reminds me of melon, blood oranges and milk chocolate on the one
hand, a Breugel tabel with packed meat and smoked ham on the other. Wonderful
hints of mocha and espresso with whipped cream, joined by creamy vanilla
custard and almonds. A soft but unmistakable smokiness gives it a nice depth.
Leave it for a few minutes and a fresh Brussels waffle with coconut topping
emerges. Complex and inviting.
On the palate I first
get loads of spices and pure wood, still smoldering. Liquid hearth (what?).
Quite a bit of peat, mind you. The spices are cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and some
black pepper. The fruit is the same as on the nose with the blood oranges in
the lead. Midpalate some salt kicks in, while the smoke fades and returns.
There is quite a bit going on here.
The mocha returns in
the finish, but it’s the spices that roar until the end.
Very powerful and
spicy Bowmore, of which the spirit clearly enjoyed the virgin wood. Used to be
55 pounds on Islay, but 175 EUR in shops. Not cheap, eh? Thanks to The Green
Man for the generous sample.