BW5 (Bowmore 1996)

"The nose is brilliant together with a more than adequate palate both up to the high standards in Speciality Drinks' Elements of Islay series. Seriously good!"

(Photo from Whiskybase)

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Approved by John ‘Jack’ Millroy, founder of the Millroys of Soho whisky shop, this 5th member of the Bw range was taken from 5 refill hogsheads (2 from 1995 and 3 from 1996). It has got its fair share of raving reviews from several respected bloggers, which brought me to buy in the first place from a local liquor shop with still the original price from when it came out (respect for that!).

I have been tasting it for over a year, but never got around to write down a proper review. Therefore, I selected it as my example a a good 90s peated whisky and second in the series. The 90s was a bit of a roller-coaster for Bowmore by the way, with their notorious FWP problem, but they also produced some great spirit containing the tropical fruity notes reminiscent of former glorious decades.

Nose

Entrance of fruits (oranges, sugared grapefruits) with a salty thang. The peat smoke is comfortably hidden in the background. Ocean spray, tropical fruit juice in my hand, I might be on a boat or on the shore of Loch Indaal. I like the complexity with many subtle notes (and I like subtle notes) behind the massive fruitiness. There is also a dirtiness, which sets this apart from other Bowmores matured in bourbon casks. Kiwi, peaches, nectarines, juicy pears, with a hint of various spices in the background like ginger, fennel, aniseed and lemon rind. Funnily enough the spices seem pick up speed, and even surpass the fruits. The peat retains its background role where it forms a perfect foundations for the fruits and spices. More scents of ink, dried grass, and geranium, complete a pretty perfect nose.

Taste

Oh yes, this is at perfect strength with mouth-clinching acidity, lip-smacking fruits and lingering peat smoke. Pure lime juice, smoked mackerel and a mixture of dried herbs (do not ask which exactly). Just completely chiseled, but complex enough to stay interesting. Again tropical fruit juice to which lemon slices and fresh mint leaves have been added. Some dried grass, a hint of smoked peat and a slightly farm-y side. Finishes fairly long with more of the herbs, oranges, oh and even an olive. Lovely juice.

Overall

The BW5 is the best Bowmore I had so far. Ok, I did not have that many, but still, this is seriously good. The selections Elements of Islay are usually of high quality in my experience, and this is up to their standards. The nose is brilliant and the palate, although less complex, is more than adequate. Still available, and if you are lucky, like me, you can find under €100 in one of the local stores that does not up their prices to the market.

What others say

Whiskybase: 88.99 (140 votes) * Serge Valentin @Whiskyfun: 90/100 * @Whiskynotes: 90/100 * @WhiskyIsrael: 91/100 * @MaltFascination: 90/100
Read for yourself

A bottle of this was purchased from

Scores

these are my personal views, so do not take them too seriously… nothing beats tasting these for yourself •

Cask influence
55%
Peat/smoke
20%
Nose 89%
Taste 88.5%
Balance 89%
Depth 88%
Finish 87.5%
Score