Royal Lochnagar 2018 Selected Reserve


”In Memory of Queen Elizabeth II”


Whisky Review # 966

Country: Scotland

Region: Eastern Highlands
Brand: Royal Lochnagar Selected Reserve - Limited Edition
Bottled: 2018 - Bottle # 1256 of a total of 3000
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Age: NAS (Said to be between 18-20 Years)
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 43%
Maturation: Mix of Re-Fill Bourbon barrels and Re-Fill Bodega Ex-Sherry casks
Chill Filtration: Yes
Price Range: US$ 170-190 (October 2022)
Price/Quality Ratio: ๐Ÿ‘Ž Can
't be cheap but too expensive for what it offers
Buying Advice: ๐Ÿ˜€ A well-made Sherried Highlander for special occasions

Color:

Deep Amber (Artificially Coloured)

Nose:

Clear Re-Fill Sherry cask influence. A little Sulfur but nothing serious. It's Medium-Sweet and the Nose reminds me of X-Mas cake with lots of Dried Fruit, Brown Sugar and Spices. The Alcohol is slightly noticeable.

Main Aromas:

Toasted Barley, Buttered Toast, Brown Sugar, X-Mas Cake with Sherry-soaked Dried Fruit such as Sultanas, Raisins, Apricots, Plums and Figs, Dark Red Fruit like Berries and Cherries, Pepper, Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Forest Floor, Dusty Oak and Caffe Latte.
    
Supportive Aroma Accents:

Toffee, Caramel, Vanilla, Treacle, Honey, Resin, Sweet Apple, Ripe Banana, Ginger, Leather, Tobacco, Aniseed and Mint. Hints of PVC Pipes and Cranberry Juice.


Palate:

We remain in the Sherried X-Mas atmosphere although I find some additional Floral and (artificial) Fruity notes. It's a little on the Thin side for such an expensive Malt.

Main Flavours:

Toasted Malt, Brown Sugar, Treacle, Toffee, Orange Marmalade, X-mas Cake with Sherry-soaked Dried Fruit like Sultanas, Raisins, Plums and Figs, Dark Berries, Tutti-Frutti Gum, Pepper, Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Aniseed, Dusty Oak and Strong Espresso.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Caramel, Vanilla, Honey, Sweet Red Apple, Hazelnut-Chocolate, Dusty Earth, Floral Soap, Dark Cherries, Caffe Latte, Ginger, Leather and Tobacco.


Finish:

Middle-Long, a little Sharp, Bitter-Sweet and Dry towards the end. A few Sour notes as well. It's slightly Thin and an ABV of 46% would have been more adequate. I find Toasted Malt, Caramel, Vanilla, Toffee, Honey, Dried Fruit like Sultanas, Figs, Plums and Raisins, Sweet Red Apple, Dark Berries, Hazelnut-Chocolate, Strong Black Tea, Brown Sugar, Treacle, Pepper, Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Ginger, Menthol, Dusty Earth, Metal Coins, Floral Perfume, Orange Marmalade, Cloves and Dunnage Warehouse.

Drinking Advice:

I added a little Water and that takes care of the light Alcohol Heat. It also adds an unexpected Paint Thinner note. You can add a few drops but don't overdo it.

Rating: 85.5 - Stars on a 1-10 scale: 8 (********)

Nose: 21.5 - Taste: 21.5 - Finish: 21 - Overall: 21.5

*** Important Note with respect to Rating.

A few of my loyal readers have pointed out that every once in a while my final Rating note does not seem to be totally in line with the written text. I recognize that. When I started this Whisky Blog back in 2011, I was not at all experienced in tasting and scoring Single Malts & Blends. Looking back I realize that during the early years I probably scored the good Whiskies too low and the not so good Whiskies too high. Ever since the beginning I try to remain consequent in my rating, always comparing the outcome to the rating of comparable whiskies in terms of quality and taste and adjusting the final rating if necessary. This might lead to the discrepancy I mentioned before. It would have been much easier if I would have chosen a simple 1-10 rating since the beginning but after having reviewed 950 whiskies it would not be wise to change the system now. I will however from now on add stars on the 1-10 scale so you will have a better idea of what I thought of the whisky reviewed. And I'm planning to only use the 1-10 scale as of January 1, 2023. Please feel free to comment!

Drinking Experience Neat
: Good

 
Conclusion:

The Royal Lochnagar distillery is located one mile from Balmoral Castle, the Scottish home of the British Royal Family. Queen Victoria and Albert Prince Consort visited the Lochnagar distillery on the 17th of September, 1848. They were duly impressed and issued the Royal Warrant to the distillery. To celebrate this very special moment the Royal Lochnagar Selected Reserve was developed in 1988. Selected casks are used for this limited edition. Usually, the whiskies used for this Reserve are 18-20 Years old. It is only released if and when sufficient good casks are available.

The original Royal Lochnagar Distillery was built in 1823. It was destroyed by fire twice, respectively in 1824 and 1841. In 1845 it was rebuilt by John Begg. It was Queen Victoria's favourite distillery and received its Royal Warrant in 1848. It is located in Lochnagar, Royal Deeside near Balmoral Castle. The current owners are Diageo. Most of the production goes into Blends like Johnnie Walker Blue and Black and Windsor, the most popular Blend in South Korea that was launched in 1996. The core range consists of the 12 Years & the Selected Reserve. The annual production amounts to around 450.000 litres of Alcohol. We enjoyed our visit to the distillery in 2019.

I review this Malt today to honour the late Queen Elizabeth II who passed away at Balmoral castle close to Royal Lochnagar on the 8th of September of this year.

This Royal Lochnagar is not your to-go-to daily dram and not only because of the hefty price card. It's more of an after-dinner malt to enjoy with Dark Chocolate, Espresso Coffee and perhaps a light Cigar on a special occasion. It's well-made but suffers from the usual Diageo flaws that include a low ABV, Chill-Filtration and lots of added Caramel. I bought a full bottle during our visit to the distillery in 2019 and I will enjoy a dram once in a while after a nice dinner or when assisting the Netflix series "The Crown" that gives us an interesting insight in the Life and Times of the late Queen Elizabeth II.

Cheers ๐Ÿฅƒ

Jan van den Ende                                                                       October 13, 2022

Johnnie Walker XR 21


”This Blend Misses the X(R) Factor”


Whisky Review # 965

Country: Scotland

Brand: Johnnie Walker XR 21 (Legacy Blend)
Type: Blended Scotch Whisky
Age: 21 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 40%
Maturation: Unknown - My guess: (Refill) Ex-Bourbon casks & some Sherried Wood 
Chill Filtration: Yes
Price Range: US$ 100-140 (October 2022)
Price/Quality Ratio: ๐Ÿ‘Ž Too expensive for what it offers
Buying Advice: ๐Ÿ˜ Very nice presentation but too Thin and heavy on Grain

Color:

Dark Amber with shades of Brown and Orange (Artificially Coloured)

Nose:

Thin arrival. It's almost a crime to bottle a 21 Year old high-end Blended Whisky at 40%. I understand it from a financial point of view but that's all. Such a shame! I also get lots of Grain Alcohol so I would guess that the Grain to Malt ratio is likely to be in the range of 70/30%. The Nose is mostly Sweet but I get a few Sour and Salty notes as well. The Sherry casks are there but are drowned somewhat in the sea of Grain. Main drivers are Caramel, (Dried) Dark Fruit, Honey and Spices with some Smoke and Peat in the background.
 
Main Aromas:

Grain Alcohol, Toasted Malt, Buttered Toast, Honey, Salted Caramel, Dark Red Fruit like Berries & Cherries, Dried Fruit like Raisins, Apricots, Sultanas, Apples & Plums, Distant Campfire Smoke, Orange Marmalade, Dusty Oak, Cinnamon and Cloves.
    
Supportive Aroma Accents:

Toffee, Vanilla, Butterscotch, Demerara Sugar, Nougat, Straw, Earthy Peat, Lemon, Canned Peach, Polished Leather Upholstery, Cigar Ashes, Tobacco, Coconut, Dark Chocolate, Licorice Pepper, Nutmeg and Cardamom.

Mortlach
Palate:

Thin delivery. The slightly Harsh Grain Alcohol rules. The Palate basically follows the Nose with Sweet Dried Fruit, Salted Caramel and slightly Sour Berries.

Main Flavours:

Grain Alcohol, Toasted Malt, Salted Caramel, Dark Honey, Dried Fruit like Raisins, Sultanas, Plums and Apricots, Orange Marmalade, Smoke from a distant fire, Peat, Dark Chocolate, Dusty Oak, Pepper, Cinnamon and Menthol.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Toffee, Butterscotch, Vanilla, Nectarine, Lemon, Toasted Nuts, Strong Black Tea, Cranberry, Gooseberry, Dark Cherries, Tobacco, Burnt Toast/Herbs, Polished Leather Upholstery, Ginger and Cloves.

Port Dundas
Finish:

Short/Middle-Long, Bitter-Sweet & Medium-Dry. The Grain Alcohol is slightly Harsh. I find Grain Alcohol, Burnt Toast, Vanilla, Salted Caramel, Dried Fruit like Sultanas, Raisins & Apricots, Dark Honey, Distant Campfire Smoke, Earthy Peat, Dusty Oak, Burnt Herbs, Tobacco, Polished Wood, Toasted Nuts, Dark Chocolate, Strong Black Tea, Pepper, Ginger, Cinnamon, Cloves, Menthol and Licorice.    

Drinking Advice:

Added Water does not improve this Blend. It's already too Thin as presented.

Rating: 84.5 - Stars on a 1-10 scale: 7 (*******)

Nose: 21.5 - Taste: 21.5 - Finish: 20.5 - Overall: 21

*** Important Note with respect to Rating.

A few of my loyal readers have pointed out that every once in a while my final Rating note does not seem to be totally in line with the written text. I recognize that. When I started this Whisky Blog back in 2011, I was not at all experienced in tasting and scoring Single Malts & Blends. Looking back I realize that during the early years I probably scored the good Whiskies too low and the not so good Whiskies too high. Ever since the beginning I try to remain consequent in my rating, always comparing the outcome to the rating of comparable whiskies in terms of quality and taste and adjusting the final rating if necessary. This might lead to the discrepancy I mentioned before. It would have been much easier if I would have chosen a simple 1-10 rating since the beginning but after having reviewed 950 whiskies it would not be wise to change the system now. I will however from now on add stars on the 1-10 scale so you will have a better idea of what I thought of the whisky reviewed. And I'm planning to only use the 1-10 scale as of January 1, 2023. Please feel free to comment!

Drinking Experience Neat
: Good but too Thin

Drinking Experience on the Rocks: Good but I still prefer JW Black

Conclusion:

This Blend is made by the current JW Master Blender Jim Beveridge in honour of the late JW Master Blender Alexander Walker II who received a knighthood from King George V in 1920. The Blend is based on Sir Alexander's hand-written notes. It is produced in three subsequent steps. In step 1, quality casks of Port Dundas Grain Whisky are married. In step two, mature whiskies from Ex-Bourbon casks are added to enhance the core flavours. In step 3, mature Single Malts are added adding Fruit and Malt. These Single Malts are said to include Mortlach, Cardhu, Caol Ila and even a few drops of the old demolished Brora distillery.

I can't help but feel that the XR is all about marketing again. It comes in a beautiful heavy bottle and a nice cask. I can imagine that people see this bottle in the Travel Retail shops and go "Wow, this must be great". But once again we are tricked by appearances. The XR is a good Blend but is way too expensive for what it offers. One of the main reasons is the 40% ABV. That simply does not do justice to the mature Malts that are included in the Blend. At this price level the Malt content could and should have been raised to around 40%, thus improving the overal balance Vs. the slightly Sharp Port Dundas Grain Alcohol. The presentation is really beautiful but the contents leave much to be desired. Like Amy Winehouse I'm going Back to Black that presents a much better P/Q ratio! 

Cheers ๐Ÿฅƒ

Jan van den Ende                                                                         October 6, 2022

Cardhu

Benromach 15 Years


Diet Christmas-Cake”


Whisky Review # 964

Country: Scotland

Region: Speyside
Brand: Benromach
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Age: 15 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 43%
Maturation: Mix of Ex-Bourbon and Ex-Sherry Casks with Oloroso Finish
Chill Filtration: Yes
Sample provided by Jan from the Netherlands. Many thanks!
Price Range: US$ 70-100 (September 2022)
Price/Quality Ratio: ๐Ÿ˜ Okay at around US$ 70. I would not pay more though.
Buying Advice: ๐Ÿ˜ It's okay I guess but too Thin for me. I prefer the 10 Years.

Color:

Amber with hues of Orange and Brown (Natural Colour)

Nose:

Medium-Sweet and slightly on the Thin side. This expression would benefit from an ABV of 46%. The Sherry influence is noticeable. The Alcohol is not totally integrated and I also get a bit of Sulphur & Glue. Nothing serious though. Lightly peated Diet Christmas pudding sums it up nicely.

Main Aromas:

Sweet Barley, Butter Biscuits, Salted Caramel, Vanilla, Heather-Honey, Grass and Straw, Wax, Christmas Cake with Nuts and Dried Fruit like Apricots, Apples, Plums, Dates, Sultanas and Candied Orange and Lemon, Polished Leather, Dusty Oak, Milk Chocolate, Dried & Fresh Herbs, Cinnamon and Ginger.
    
Supportive Aroma Accents:

Toffee, Smoke, Earthy Peat, Cigar Ashes, Rubber, Petrol Station, Tobacco, Sulphur, Soot, Glue, Resin, Cooked Vegetables, Wet Rocks, Grapefruit, Artificially-Flavoured Banana Candies, Curry-Chicken, Espresso, Pepper, Nutmeg, Cloves and Cardamom. A hint of Sweaty Feet.


Palate:

Again a little on the Thin side. A mix of Sweet, Bitter, Sour and Salty notes.

Main Flavours:

Toasted Barley, Buttered Toast, Salted Caramel, Heather-Honey, Christmas Cake w/ Walnuts and Dried Fruit like Sultanas, Raisins, Apricots, Plums, Apples & Candied Orange, Lemon and Grapefruit, light Smoke, Earthy Peat, Cigar Ashes, Soot, Grass & Straw, Polished Leather, Tobacco, Dusty Oak, Pepper, Ginger, Aniseed & Menthol.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Toffee, Resin, Wax, Mandarins, Dark Berries, Wet Rocks, Cooked Vegetables, Strong Espresso, Dark Chocolate, Herbs, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Licorice and Chicken Broth.


Finish:

Medium-Long, Bitter-Sweet and Medium-Dry with some Sour and Salty notes that provide balance. A slightly Thin mouthfeel. The Alcohol remains noticeable. There is a slight Artificial feel to this BenRomach. I find Toasted Barley, Heather-Honey, Vanilla, Salted Caramel, Resin, Grass and Straw, Dried and Fresh Herbs, Dusty Oak, Dark Chocolate, light Smoke, Earthy Peat (Forest Floor), Cigar Ashes, Dried Fruit like Raisins, Sultanas & Plums, Orange, Grapefruit, Polished Leather, Tobacco, Wet Rocks, Black Tea, Pepper, Ginger, Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Menthol and hints of Iron and Chicken Broth.

Drinking Advice:

Added Water does not improve this BenRomach.

Rating: 83.5 - Stars on a 1-10 scale: 7 (*******)

Nose: 21 - Taste: 21 - Finish: 20.5  - Overall: 21

*** Important Note with respect to Rating.

A few of my loyal readers have pointed out that every once in a while my final Rating note does not seem to be totally in line with the written text. I recognize that. When I started this Whisky Blog back in 2011, I was not at all experienced in tasting and scoring Single Malts & Blends. Looking back I realize that during the early years I probably scored the good Whiskies too low and the not so good Whiskies too high. Ever since the beginning I try to remain consequent in my rating, always comparing the outcome to the rating of comparable whiskies in terms of quality and taste and adjusting the final rating if necessary. This might lead to the discrepancy I mentioned before. It would have been much easier if I would have chosen a simple 1-10 rating since the beginning but after having reviewed 950 whiskies it would not be wise to change the system now. I will however from now on add stars on the 1-10 scale so you will have a better idea of what I thought of the whisky reviewed. And I'm planning to only use the 1-10 scale as of January 1, 2023. Please feel free to comment!

Drinking Experience Neat
: Good

The Old Packaging
Conclusion:

The Benromach Distillery is located in Forres (Morayshire) and was founded in 1898
by the Benromach Distillery Company. Benromach was mothballed from 1931-1937 and from 1983-1993. In 1993, Benromach was bought by Independent Bottler Gordon & MacPhail from United Distillers and since 1998 the Distillery is up and running again. The current year production is around 400.000 litres. The new core range includes, since 2020, the 10, 15, 21,40 Years & the 2009 Cask Strength. We visited the distillery in May 2014 on a very rainy day and enjoyed a great private tour and tasting. It's certainly worth a visit!

The 15 Years matured for 9 years in a mix of First-Fill Ex-Bourbon casks (80%) and Re-Fill Ex-Sherry casks (20%). Both components were subsequently married and matured for another 6 years in First-Fill Oloroso Sherry casks.

I like this distillery and their 10 Years in particular and in general can appreciate their expressions. But this 15 Y does not really work for me. It's okay I guess but it's too Thin and it lacks emotion and direction. It should have been bottled at 46%. As it is, it's a bit dreary just like the weather on the occasion of our visit in 2014. Not my favourite BenRomach. 

Cheers ๐Ÿฅƒ

Jan van den Ende                                                                  September 29, 2022

Pictures taken during our visit in May 2014

Glengoyne 12 Years


”T(h)in Man” 


Whisky Review # 963

Country: Scotland
Region: Southern Highlands
Brand: Glengoyne
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Age: 12 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 43%
Maturation: Mix of mostly Sherried Wood and some First-Fill Ex-Bourbon casks
Chill Filtration: Yes
Sample provided by Jan from The Netherlands. Many Thanks!
Price Range: US$ 40-60 (September 2022)
Price/Quality Ratio: ๐Ÿ‘ Good at around US$ 50
Buying Advice: ๐Ÿ˜ It's okay I guess as a daily dram but I can't get excited about it

Colour:

Golden (Natural Colour)

Nose:

Light and almost on the Thin side. Initially I get a little Sulfur but it fades away after a short while. The Sherry cask influence is limited and well-balanced by the Bourbon casks. The Nose is mainly Sweet and Sour with a few Salty, Waxy and Earthy notes for company. Okay but nothing special.

Main Aromas:

Sweet Malted Barley, German Butter Biscuits, Salted Caramel, Fruitcake sprinkled with Dried Fruit like Raisins, Sultanas, Dates, Apricots, Nuts and Citrus Peel (Orange and Lemon), Apple-Vinegar, Dusty Track, Wax, Straw, Dusty Oak and Cinnamon.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Honey, Toffee, Dark Plums, Figs, Bounty Bars, Mango, Floral Soap, Dried Herbs and Fresh Mint, Nutmeg, Pepper and distant hints of Strawberry Jam and Leather.


Palate:

Again a bit on the Thin side. Unfortunately quite common amongst today's entry-level Single Malts. The Palate is Bitter-Sweet and Medium-Dry. It basically follows the Nose. Not bad but nothing to get excited about. The Alcohol is noticeable at this point but does not obstruct the Tasting procedures.

Main Flavours:

Toasted Barley, Salted Caramel, Straw, the Fruitcake from the Nose, Bounty Bars, Herbal Tea, Wax, Apple, Pear, Dusty Track, Dusty Oak, Pepper, Cinnamon, Ginger & Mint.

Supportive Flavour Accents:
   
Honey, Toffee, Vanilla, Nougat, Buttered Toast, Mango Mousse, Ripe Banana, Floral Soap, Licorice, Cloves, Nutmeg and distant hints of Rubber, Leather and Mustard.
 

Finish:

Middle-Long and Bitter-Sweet. Increasing cask Bitterness towards the Medium-Dry end. I find Toasted Barley, Salted Caramel, Toffee, Apple, Orange and Lemon Peel, Pear, Fruitcake, Nuts, Mango Mousse, Chocolate, Caffe Latte, Dusty Oak, Straw and Floral Soap, Pepper, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Cloves, Ginger, Licorice, Mint and distant hints of Rubber and strong German Mustard.

Drinking Advice:

Given the size of the sample, I only tasted this Glengoyne neat.

Rating: 82.5 - Stars on a 1-10 scale: 7 (*******)

Nose: 21- Taste: 21 - Finish: 20  - Overall: 20.5

*** Important Note with respect to Rating.

A few of my loyal readers have pointed out that every once in a while my final Rating note does not seem to be totally in line with the written text. I recognize that. When I started this Whisky Blog back in 2011, I was not at all experienced in tasting and scoring Single Malts & Blends. Looking back I realize that during the early years I probably scored the good Whiskies too low and the not so good Whiskies too high. Ever since the beginning I try to remain consequent in my rating, always comparing the outcome to the rating of comparable whiskies in terms of quality and taste and adjusting the final rating if necessary. This might lead to the discrepancy I mentioned before. It would have been much easier if I would have chosen a simple 1-10 rating since the beginning but after having reviewed 950 whiskies it would not be wise to change the system now. I will however from now on add stars on the 1-10 scale so you will have a better idea of what I thought of the whisky reviewed. Please feel free to comment!

Drinking Experience Neat
: Okay/Good. ๐Ÿ˜ด


Conclusion:

The Burnfoot distillery was founded in 1833 by the Edmonstone Family. Lang Brothers bought the distillery in 1876 & changed the name to Glenguin before it  became Glengoyne in 1905. Since 2003, the distillery is owned by Ian Macleod Distillers Ltd. It is located in Dumgoyne near Killearn, close to Glasgow. It sits right on the boundary between Highlands and the Lowlands. The distillery itself is in the Highlands while the warehouses are down the road in the Lowlands. The production stands currently at slightly under 1 million liters. The core range includes the 10, 12, 15, 18, 21 and 25 years. The location close to Glasgow makes it very accessible for day tours and more than 60.000 people visit the distillery each year. We were there in May 2017 as well on a sunny Sunday afternoon and the place was packed with visitors. Four tours were being held at the same time. The distillery is certainly worth a visit and the shop and location are very nice. But it's better to avoid the weekends!

The Glengoyne 12 is a typical example of today's mainstream entry Malts. There is nothing really wrong with it but I get sleepy writing about it as it's quite Thin and it lacks character. In short, slightly boring. I do like the combination of mixed Wood used for the 12 Years as Glengoyne usually focuses on Sherried Wood. At around 50 bucks you can't really go wrong with this Glengoyne but don't expect to say Wow at your first sip!

Cheers! ๐Ÿฅƒ

Jan van den Ende                                                                September 15, 2022

Bowmore Vintage 1988


”A Soapbox Opera”


Whisky Review # 962

Country: Scotland
Region: Islay
Brand: Bowmore Vintage 1988
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Age: Around 29 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 47.8%
Maturation: First-Fill American Oak Ex-Bourbon casks - Bottled: 2017
Chill Filtration: No
Price Range: US$ 450-600 (September 2022)
Price/Quality Ratio: ๐Ÿ‘Ž Way too expensive for what it offers
Buying Advice: ๐Ÿ˜ž I had expected so much more. But ๐Ÿ‘Œ if you're into Perfume ๐Ÿ˜‰

Colour:

Golden Sunlight (Artificially Coloured)

Nose:

Quite Light and Introvert for a 29 year old Single Malt. The casks were probably not heavily charred. The Peat and Smoke have softened up over the years and form a pleasant and delicate base for the other Aroma components. The Nose presents a mix of Sweet, Sour, Salty and Mineral notes. The Alcohol is nicely integrated.

Main Aromas:

Toasted Barley, Slightly Burnt Buttered Toast, Salted Caramel, Vanilla, Soft Peat and Smoke from a Distant Fire, Ashes, Roasted Nuts, Lemon, Grapefruit, Apple Cider, Wet Rocks and Sand, Meat on the BBQ, Cinnamon, Curry and Coriander Powder.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Heather Honey, Floral Perfume/Soap, Grass & Straw, Creme de Cassis, Iodine, Tar, Dusty Oak, Herbal Tea, Toasted Pineapple, Cloves, Ginger, Pepper and Mint.


Palate:

It's like entering a Perfume shop rather than a Whisky warehouse. I know that lots of Bowmore malts from this period have this characteristic but I never found it to be quite as overwhelming as in this case. Not really my style I'm afraid.

Main Flavours:

Toasted and Malted Barley, slightly Burnt Buttered Toast, Salted Caramel, Soft Peat, Smoke from a Distant Fire, Meat on the BBQ, Floral Perfume/Soap, Grapefruit and Lemon, Tart Apple, Bitter Almonds, Dark Chocolate, Espresso, Toasted Pineapple, Dusty Oak, Herbal Tea, Cinnamon, Mint, Licorice and Cloves.

Supportive Flavour Accents:
   
Heather-Honey, Vanilla, Cherry-Flavoured Cough Syrup, Ashes, Tar, Iodine, Pebbles, Dusty Track, Mandarin Juice, Nougat, Bounty, Tobacco, Leather, Ginger and Pepper.      


Finish:

Quite Long, Bitter-Sweet and quite Perfumy. The latter is characteristic for Bowmore malt produced in the 80's but in this case it's a bit too pronounced in my opinion. The Alcohol is more noticeable now and the Finish is slightly Sharp. I find Toasted & Malted Barley, Salted Caramel, Vanilla, Heather-Honey, Soft Peat, Distant Smoke, Ashes, Iodine, Floral Soap/Perfume, Meat on the BBQ, Lemon, Grapefruit, Apple, Dusty Track, Dusty Oak, Pebbles, Dark Chocolate, Espresso, Tobacco, Pepper, Mint, Aniseed, Cinnamon, Ginger, Licorice and Leather. Rather Dry in the end.

Drinking Advice:

I added a bit of Water and that adds floral notes to the Nose and the Palate. Rose Water comes to my mind. The Finish becomes quite Thin though. You can add a few drops but don't overdo it.

Rating: 84.5 - Stars on a 1-10 scale: 7.5 (*******1/2)

Nose: 22 - Taste: 21 - Finish: 20.5 - Overall: 21

*** Important Note with respect to Rating.

A few of my loyal readers have pointed out that every once in a while my final Rating note does not seem to be totally in line with the written text. I recognize that. When I started this Whisky Blog back in 2011, I was not at all experienced in tasting and scoring Single Malts & Blends. Looking back I realize that during the early years I probably scored the good Whiskies too low and the not so good Whiskies too high. Ever since the beginning I try to remain consequent in my rating, always comparing the outcome to the rating of comparable whiskies in terms of quality and taste and adjusting the final rating if necessary. This might lead to the discrepancy I mentioned before. It would have been much easier if I would have chosen a simple 1-10 rating since the beginning but after having reviewed 960 whiskies it would not be wise to change the system now. I will however from now on add stars on the 1-10 scale so you will have a better idea of what I thought of the whisky reviewed. Please feel free to comment!

Drinking Experience Neat
: Not bad but very Perfumy and Underwhelming.


Conclusion:

Bowmore is the oldest Islay Distillery and was founded in 1779 by David Simpson. It changed hands various times along the years but since 1994 the Japanese Suntory group controls Bowmore. Bowmore still malts around 30% of the Barley on their premises. They currently produce over 2 million liters of Alcohol p.a. The core range includes the 12, the 15 Darkest, the 18 and 25 Years. Some of the Bowmore Spirit is used in Blends like Rob Roy and Black Bottle. We visited the distillery in 2014 & 2017. I absolutely love the Malting Floor, the Shop & Visitor-Centre. Certainly well-worth the visit. The 1988 vintage was bottled and released in 2017, initially for the Travel Retail Market.

This is one of the more difficult Reviews I've written over the last 10 years. I was really looking forward to Nose and Taste this 29 Year-Old Bowmore even though Bowmore is not my favourite Islay distillery. Sad to say I'm really disappointed by the Vintage 1988. In the first place it's way too Perfumy for my likings but that's of course very personal. Bowmore's from the 80's are well-known for this. But it's too much in this case, at least for me. But secondly and that's even more important, it's quite underwhelming for a 29 Year-old Single Malt. I expected a host of warming mature Islay Aromas and Flavours but it's all rather Thin and Unassuming. Only the Soft Peat and the Distant Smoke are convincing. The rest is not. What a pity!

Cheers! ๐Ÿฅƒ

Jan van den Ende                                                                    September 8, 2022