Origin: Isle of Islay (Scotland)
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Ageing barrells: Ex-Bourbon
Added coloring: Yes
Average price: € 27.00
Official website: www.bowmore.com
With the newfound international success of whisky after a few years of commercial dulling, editions without a declared age have been pouring in from all distilleries (including those outside Scotland). This is partly due to the will of playing around and experiment with ageing without setting a precise number, partly so as not to put production facilities under stress, and partly (let’s face it) to cash in more quickly on their work.
Often these NAS have imaginative names, which are intended to evoke the idea of a particular, special bottle that the master distiller has designed just for us.
A bit of marketing, a bit of a joyful desire to experiment, over time we have perhaps seen an abuse of the NAS (and the multiplication of ageing barrels), which right from the name only wants to attract potential buyers, evoking very special bottlings for a select few.
Just like this Small Batch, whose name suggests a minimal, restricted production, using only a few select casks… only to find it in almost every supermarket at a bargain price.
But without being swayed by a name that is in itself insignificant, let’s take this bottle with its white/green label (a bizarre choice) and pour some of its contents into the glass.
With a beautiful deep gold colour (very fake, ça va sans dire), the nose is rather pale and ephemeral: herbaceous traits combined with fruity aromas, on a rather pronounced layer of sweetness. The Bourbon influence is clear (the casks are a mix of ex-Bourbon used once and others used several times), but the typical Bowmore marinity is missing. Even the peat struggles to emerge, very faint. Not bad, but rather impersonal.
In the mouth, the herbaceous notes become saltier (thank goodness, I was getting worried!), a bitter note appears alongside vanilla and a hint of dried fruit. Here the peat is always present in the background, more than on the nose, but overall the aromas are a little weak, barely hinted at, there isn’t that decisive and rounded flavour that grabs you. Easy to drink, yes, but too easy.
The finish leaves a little alcohol (which at 40 degrees is almost blasphemy), peat (more than on the nose and palate, imagine that) and a sweet/salty sensation, all for a rather short time.
Given its easy availability and very low cost, it should be an introductory bottle to the distillery (and Islay), but you run the risk of getting the wrong idea: better to recommend other Bowmore products (such as the 12 year old) that are still affordable.
It’s not bad, mind you, just weak.