I didn’t do these in the full March tasting because I’d tried them before and knew I was going to buy them. So, while it’s still March, I wanted to get these notes out and line things up for a massive set of Islay posts which I’ll be publishing after the April outturn (assuming I can ever finish adding things to them).
What’s interesting (for me) about these two is that they’ll appeal to a really jaded palate. You wouldn’t start a Bowmore or Caol Ila journey here but if you’re deep into one (which I most certainly am) you might find a lot to love in these two awkward bottlings.
SMWS 3.239, Bowmore, Acrylic paints and petrichor, 16 years old, 57.6% A+
25th September 1998, refill bourbon, 134 bottles. [Petrichor definition]
Nose - Oaked honey, light peat, charred driftwood, winkles and beans. Dried acrylic paint and clay. With water, everything comes to life with elegant (but lewd) musk, banana foam sweets, leather chair, parmas and ozone.
Body - At first sugary, then very dry shellac and mineral, with a saccharin sweetness. Unbalanced neat. With water, unripe pear, parmas, fireworks and sulphur.
Finish - Numbing bitterness, a bit harsh. Softer and sweeter with water, tobacco, but still bitter.
What's not good about it - Doesn't hang together neat.
What's good about it - Gentle parmas and classy wood beyond its years with water, not overly sweet and very drinkable. This divides the house somewhat but I really enjoy it. I'd recommend it for the "had them all" Bowmore fan, for sure. It's actually one of my favourites of the March outturn.
SMWS 53.222, Caol Ila, The Three Little Pigs, 13 years old, 58.4% A+
7th December 2000, refill bourbon, 284 bottles. I like to think the 222 looks like the three little pigs tails on the label, but I believe this is a coincidence!
Nose - Ripe pear, sweet peat and wet rope. Sweet, dusty blackcurrant jam, charred wood, wafer thin ham. Icing sugar, and a little iron filings. With water, lemon, sun baked inner tube, apricot jam, a little more metallic.
Body - Herbal lavender, angelica, sweet peat, toast and honey. Rosemary, charred oak. Sweet grapefruit with water, softer with more lemon, and a touch of smoked cheese.
Finish - Long and numbing. Soda water. With water, slightly dustier at the end. Lingering grapefruit seed bitterness and catches you with some chilli heat at the end.
What's not good about it - Overly bitter if you look at it sideways.
What's good about it - A little rare to have an early teens Caol Ila as the monthly 53. Once you give it a serious amount of water, the fruit comes through, but the Caol Ila intensity is there from the start. A complex and feisty drammer.