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Bowmore 19 yo ‘French Oak Barrique’ (2018, OB, 48,9%)

Distilleries often prepare exclusive bottlings for some retailers, in the flesh or online, so they can offer valuable cherries from the tree of their offer. This is also the case, but the proportions are a bit different from the usual… Bowmore, the oldest still active distillery on Islay (at least according to the licenses, but that’s another story), has selected a 19-year-old bottling exclusively for Amazon. Silencing here any reservations about Jeff Bezos and his fiscal preferences, and also silencing the impact that his creature had, has and will have on local stores, today we taste a sample of one of the 4500 bottles on the market. It is a full maturation in ex-Chateau Lagrange casks.

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N: the first impact is of wet cardboard and wood: this makes us suspicious, let’s leave the glass there for a moment. It arrives late, like an Italian train: after a while, it tends to open, and behind the door comes out a macerated, massive, stewed fruit. Baked apples and plums, macerated raisins. A balsamic note, very clear, of pine needles is constantly growing. Bowmore’s soul reveals itself with some tropical hints, of overripe, almost rotten, exotic fruit.

P: gorgeous!, the cask influence is always quite strong, but it seems really interesting. We find dusty floral notes, it starts with a bombing of the usual delicious tropical fruit, that bold and macerated hint so typical in Bowmores. Then, it turns towards a mixture of salt and pepper (and ash). This smoked pepper remains for long: it’s like a piece of wood covered with pepper were burning! Chestnut cream, generally dried fruit. Something like burnt sugar, a bit of licorice stick. It reveals this way its extreme vinosity.

F: that mixture of salt, pepper and ash is definitely long-lasting. Marron glacée. After a while, red fruit jam.

A very successful experiment: extremely bold, the barrel is rather overwhelming, and it would have been strange if it had gone differently. The result is very particular, not at all obvious, and the profile, although hyper-sugary, is actually unique. Luckily for us, Bowmore manages to emerge with its tropical tips and its soberly smoky soul: the balance achieved cannot but be rewarded with an 87/100. Thanks to Egidio for the sample!

Recommended soundtrack: 2Pac – Ambition az a ridah.

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