Bowmore is the oldest of the eight distilleries currently operating on the famous whisky making island of Islay in Scotland. It was founded in 1779 by John Simpson, which also makes it one of the oldest in Scotland. The name of Bowmore translates as 'sea rock' from Gaelic. Bowmore one of only a few distilleries which still produces its own floor malted barley, hand-turned by a traditional wooden malt shovel and lots of hard back-breaking work. Water used to make their whiskies comes from the local Laggan River which runs over richly peated grounds, the same peat that is used to fire their kilns.
The distillery is currently owned by Morrison Bowmore - a subsidiary of the Japanese company Suntory, who also own the other Scottish distilleries at Auchentoshan and Glen Garioch. Bowmore has an annual production capacity of two million litres and is one of the biggest selling single malt whisky brands in the smoky, peaty style.
Details of Bowmore Tempest
The Tempest is a small batch bottling that is released approximately twice a year. Batch 1 was released in early 2010 (read our review) with this second release coming out late 2010. The third batch is planned for release mid to late 2011. Similar to the first release, this whisky is aged for 10 years in first fill ex-Bourbon casks. It comes bottled at 56% alcohol volume and retails in the UK at around the £40-£45 mark.
Our tasting notes
Bowmore Tempest is a warm golden colour. On the nose there is bracing and warming woodfire smoke, sugary sweetness or honey comb (something like a Crunchie Bar sweet), wildflower florals, sweet caramel vegetal notes (we thought of roasted red peppers or red chillis), freshness in way of Bowmore’s characteristic citrus notes plus an added pinch of saltiness. Adding water brings out more of the floral notes and sugary sweetness and dulls down the smokiness and general bracing hit on your senses that you get from a high ABV whisky.
On the palate this is feisty dram. The alcohol volume does kick your taste buds around a bit, and the first sensation is of spicy pepper, which is something the nose really didn’t prepare you for. This is followed by some tangy saltines then that sugary sweetness combined with citrus (we though of lemon sherbert). Adding water tones down the initial fiery hit a notch while leaving the spiciness. This whisky has a very long dry finish with vegetal and citrus notes laced with fiery hot ashy smoke.
What's the verdict?
We were anticipating this release with a combination of excitement and apprehension. For us the first release was an exceptional dram, so how would the second compare? We immediately got the impression that this is a very different whisky to the first release. Our overall impression was this second release of Tempest is a feisty and complex dram. Its freshness and smokiness is met head on by a peppery fieriness. This is a complex whisky that reveals itself more over a period of time. This is a whisky to go back to and appreciate at leisure.