Origin: Isle of Islay (Scotland)
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Ageing casks: Ex-Bourbon and ex-Sherry
Added coloring: Yes
Average price: € 290,00
Official website: www.bowmore.com
Whisky is a time machine, both on a sentimental and practical level: the former involves the experience of each of us (what were we like when the whisky in our glass was casked, and what are we like now?), the latter involves the production of the distillate, conditioned by technical choices that are always different. Tasting a whisky, whether it has undergone significant ageing or is just a few years old but comes from another era, therefore means undertaking a double journey, inside ourselves and inside the production process: an experience that is literally unrepeatable as well as damnably romantic.
Today we have the privilege of being able to taste the Bowmore 15yo “Mariner”, introduced in the 1990s, discontinued long ago (it was followed, in the meantime, by the 15yo “Darkest” and the current 15yo, already reviewed on this blog) and scarcely available, at non-ordinary prices or in some online auction.
Unlike the current one, matured for 13 years in ex-Bourbon casks and aged for two years in ex-Sherry casks, the Mariner is the result of a combination of ex-Bourbon and ex-Sherry casks, all aged for 15 years.
The colour is a warm gold very close to amber.
The nose is decidedly marine, much more so than with today’s Bowmores, with lots of salt, intense and enveloping campfire smoke, and sensations ranging from roasted bacon to brine. After a few moments, the influence of the former Sherry casks is distinctly felt, with hints of eggnog, rum-soaked sponge cake, dates and sultanas. The balance between the two souls of the distillate, the depth of the perceptions and their duration are truly out of the ordinary. The olfactory profile is enriched by spicy notes of cloves, nutmeg and ginger, while in the background there is a citrus fragrance that matches an impression of dark chocolate. There is also room for a floral accent (peony?). Many hours after tasting, the empty glass takes us back to the origins: salt and bacon.
In the mouth, the whisky oscillates between the marine, with the note of salt accompanying bonfire smoke, and the austere, with a patina of polished wood that gives the whole an aftertaste of “antiquity”. We are surprised by a blood orange flavour that is quite unusual for Bowmore, but at this point we realise that we really are dealing with another Bowmore. The picture is completed by a mouth-watering hint of caramelised nuts.
In the medium to long finish, very salty and fairly peaty, the meringue peeps out.
Compared to the current 15yo, in which the contribution of the ex-Sherry casks has an evident influence on the smoothness of the profile, the Mariner appears to be a more complex and articulated whisky, which requires extra attention to be deciphered and enjoyed to the full. In any case, this whisky evokes the image of an old pirate, with the sea in his eyes and in his beard, who tells stories of exploits now long gone, rough with nostalgia, acting as a sort of “aromatic correlative” of a past time that only memory can keep alive.
Reviews of Bowmore whisky in the blog:
Bowmore 17yo White Sands
Bowmore 18yo Travel Retail
Bowmore 19yo French Oak Barrique
Bowmore Small Batch
Bowmore Vault Edition – First Release
Bowmore Vault Edition – Second Release
Cadenhead’s Bowmore 17yo
Dramfool Bowmore 21yo
Signatory Bowmore 12yo (2001 – 2014)