TBWC’s Bowmore 27 year 47.6% aka The “Green Pepper” Dram

There are times when a whisky sings a particular note… with such clarity and consistency that your impression of that dram is forever associated with that note.

I must admit, until this Bowmore, green pepper was never such a singular stubborn element.

We sampled it blind before the reveal.

Bowmore 27 year, Batch 5, 47.6% (TBWC) Bottle 94 of 285

  • Nose – Peat and how! Crazy sweet peat, bit of funk, fruit, some phenols, medical, surgery, bill capsules, VERY sweet, mulberry
  • Palate – Fresh capsicum which seamlessly follows through on the finish, a bit of green tea…
  • Finish – Dry and pure capsicum

After the 1st sip, it was pretty clear this whisky needs some time to settle down…

  • Nose – How interesting… the peat ran off, barley sugar, toffee, something almost like apple sauce, lemon curd tart, and apricots
  • Palate – A bit of spice, cinnamon, a bit bitter at the front
  • Finish – A nice cinnamon

We set it aside and what did we find?

  • Nose – Green capsicum
  • Palate – Goodness! Green capsicum
  • Finish – And…. gee….. Green capsicum

Now before you start to think green capsicum is a bad thing, it was actually quite good!

Giving even more time, we could detect a hint of ash. Even later… pickle? Yup… pickle.

This is one of those whiskies which is worth checking out but…  certainly not an every day dram. Instead one of those whiskies that works best when you are in the mood for it… particularly if you happen to enjoy…. yup… Green Capsicum!

What do the folks at That Boutique-y Whisky Company have to say?

The massively well-loved Bowmore distillery has resided on the Isle of Islay since 1779 – it’s the oldest Islay whisky distillery and it’s still going even today! The distillery is home to its very own malting floor, an eight ton stainless steel mash tun, six wash backs and two pairs of stills, which actually produce enough heat not only to make their lovely peated whisky, but the waste heat from the stills heats the nearby pool! The label features a young lad with a freshly-swiped bra from the pool’s changing rooms legging it from one of the pool’s lifeguards.

Unfortunately the Bowmore batch 5 / 27 year has been replaced by batch 12 / 19 year on the TBWC website, however you can read what the chaps at Master of Malt have to say:

  • Nose: Salted butter, aromatic cedar, a whiff of floral malt developing beside classic coastal air.
  • Palate: Good cider, slightly vegetal at points, smoke meat and fried banana.
  • Finish: Slightly oily. Sea salt, lemon-flavoured boiled sweets.

So they didn’t discover any green capsicum, but can see some of the elements they found in there too.

What else did we sample in our evening tribute to Jim McEwan with whiskies bottled by “That Boutique-y Whisky Company”?

Clearly no stranger to Bowmore, here are a few sampled over the years…

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LMdW Artist #8 – Ardmore 10 year 60.3%

We were nearly through our exploration of the full range of the new La Maison du Whisky Artist # 8.

Back to the non-sherry drams and shifting again back to peat… with Ardmore and a label that made me think of wandering through a chilled winter forest.

Ardmore 10 year (2008/2018) Cask #800168 60.3% (233 bottles)

  • Nose – Citrus, herbal, then shifts into sweet spices, classic
  • Palate – Light spice and again quite herbal, traditional styled peat
  • Finish – Long, tobacco

I will admit by this point, I had been sniffing and swishing through 8 drams. Did this one stand out? Not exceptionally so. Particularly after the powerful Bowmore.

That doesn’t mean it wasn’t a fine dram – it certainly had some interesting qualities however a fleeting sip leaves only an impression than full fledged proper tasting. And I have a feeling to properly appreciate this Ardmore, one would need to slow down to give it full attention and due consideration.

As for a ball park on cost? In Singapore, this bottle would be SGD 300 at La Maison du Whisky.

And what do the folks there have to say?

  • Nose – Both powerful and unctuous. So Ardmore, the first nose does not go with the back of the spoon and we propose to discover a peat trimmed with billhooks. Very chocolaty and spicy (cloves, nutmeg), this peat impregnates the aromatic palette. In the background, some white flowers and peppers (Cayenne) reinforce its heady character. To be noted, its beautiful herbaceous and busty register (verbena, sage).
  • Palate – Rich, dense. In tune with the nose, the attack on the palate is full of vivacity. Whole blocks of peat literally fall down the walls of the palace. At the same time, coconut and juicy pears release their sweet juices and constantly refresh the taste buds. The mid-palate is marked by various essential oils (savory, rosemary). Gradually, a diaphanous smoke starts to intensify.
  • Finish – Silky, nourished. Gourmet, it evokes a delicious milk pie. As it goes, it becomes more and more herbaceous (green malt) and saline. Pink berries and cloves give it the tonicity that will allow it to finish in beauty on notes of red fruits (raspberry, strawberry). Intensely smoke and ash, the retro-olfaction reveals notes of tobacco and menthol. Fibrous, empty glass pays tribute to malted barley.

—-From LMdW website with an imperfect google translation from French.

La Maison du Whisky Artist #8 sans Sherry

We’ve not had so many Ardmore’s and those that made it to Mumbai were both just this year (2018)!

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LMdW Artist #8 – Caol Ila 15 year 54.2%

We shifted fully into peat mode with Caol Ila… part of the new La Maison du Whisky Artist # 8 series.

Just as you would imagine from the swirl of smoke from Jérémie Lenoir’s photographs, this was no shy retiring whisky…

Caol Ila 15 year (2003/2018) Hogshead Cask #302465 54.2% (282 bottles)

  • Nose – Sweet peat, light hickory, bay leaves and sweet basil
  • Palate – Surprisingly soft and smooth yet no mistaking it was powerful too
  • Finish – An absolutely terrific finish – incredibly long and strong

The smoke remained… so pungent that I needed to change glasses before continuing with the rest of the series!

As for what it would set you back? SGD 388.

And what do the folks at La Maison du Whisky have to say? No detailed tasting notes…. just a few thoughts.

Particularly suggestive, this absolutely beautiful version transports us in the proper sense of the word. Continuously traversed by swirls of smoke and a sea wind of exquisite sweetness, the aromatic palette is a succession of hectic sequences and moments imbued with tranquility and serenity.

—-From LMdW website with an imperfect google translation from French.

La Maison du Whisky Artist #8 sans Sherry

Clearly we’ve had other flirtations with Caol Ila:

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LMdW Artist #8 – Bruichladdich 25 year 46.9%

We continued exploring the full range of the new La Maison du Whisky Artist # 8 with a trip to Islay with a whisky from Bruichladdich.

Now I am no stranger to Bruichladdich! In Singapore, the most memorable Bruichladdich sampled til date was at Whisky Live Singapore 2016’s Collectors Room – with the 15 year “Royal Wedding H.R.H. Prince Charles” (1965/1980) 52%!

Here in Mumbai we’ve had the most memorable Peat Progression Evenings and even explored their PC MP5 trio.

However I will admit none attained the venerable age of 25+ years.

So what did my teasing sniff and swish at Whisky Live Singapore 2018‘s VIP room reveal?

Bruichladdich 25 year (1993/2018) Hogshead Cask #1640 46.9%

  • Nose – Earthy, hay, organic… think wandering around a farm on a warm summer day, a bit of salty minerals, sweet grass, orchard fruits and even a bit herbal too
  • Palate – Sour, soft, very natural, more of that organic quality…. everything on the nose followed through on the palate in a nicely rounded way
  • Finish – Light pepper spice, some nuts and ends a bit sweet

This wasn’t an easy romping dram, it was one that I would have preferred to slow down and get to know a bit better. However with only a teasing sip, it was not enough to do justice.

So what do the folks at La Maison du Whisky have to say?

  • Nose – Slim, fine. With a lot of freshness, the first lets us contemplate with rare acuity a field of barley. Rather salty, it is also imbued with medicinal tones (mustard, camphor). Its airiness is so beautiful that it raises enthusiasm. Gradually, vanilla and some yellow fruits (pear, apple) give replica to very fragrant plants (rosemary, savory). The aromatic palette is a marvel of balance.
  • Palate – Both delicate and lively. Not in rest, the attack in mouth also takes height. Very fond and juicy (pear William), it is also vanilla and lemony. The middle of the mouth makes us smell the heady perfumes of geranium and red fruits (strawberry, raspberry) that escape from a tank in full fermentation. The end of the mouth evokes the zucchini flower.
  • Finish – Long, serene. In the same fermentary register, it is milky (coconut, almond). Increasingly saline, it extends on notes of salicornia, pig ears and more autumn flavors of chestnut and liquorice. The retro-olfaction comes back on red fruits and more particularly raspberry. The empty glass is medicinal and peppered.

—-From LMdW website with an imperfect google translation from French.

La Maison du Whisky Artist #8 sans Sherry

Just a few past explorations of Bruichladdich whiskies include:

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LMdW Artist #8 – Glenturret 30 year 55.3%

We continued exploring the full range of the new La Maison du Whisky Artist #8 series with a Highland dram from Glenturret.

I nearly forgot having tried the Glenturret 10 year back in 2013! Somehow Glenturret just isn’t one of those distilleries our merry Mumbai malters manage to encounter in our travels around the globe.

To then have an opportunity to sample a rather fine specimen of some 30+ years? Well, what a treat!

Glenturret 30 year (1987/2018) Hogshead Cask #371 55.3% (214 bottles)

  • Nose – Peach and other orchard fruits, complex, subtle dusting of sugar, a deeper French vanilla, a sweet perfume… utterly delightful
  • Palate – Delicious!! What a class act and how marvellously balanced. Honey sweet yet not too much so, a bit more depth with a zesty spice.
  • Finish – Long delicate fruits, berries, sweet spices… and oh how it lingers

Truly a lovely whisky with tremendous balance and beauty. Really quite superb. My sampling companions were amused as I was clearly in my “happy place” with this whisky! I would have loved to enjoyed this simply on its own and not part of a teaser sampling with 10 in this series!

Just to keep things in perspective, what would this beauty set you back? If buying in Singapore, it would be SGD 595 (approx US 435).

And what do the folks at La Maison du Whisky have to say?

  • Nose – Ample, rich. Very jammy (mirabelle, queen-claude) and vanilla, the first is also herbaceous (cut hay, alfalfa) and candied (lemon, pear, apricot). At aeration, the malted barley spreads with extreme delicacy over the entire aromatic palette. Then, he becomes more and more greedy (oat cake, leavened bread, raisin bread) and powdered (cocoa bean)
  • Palate – Creamy, creamy. A spicy sequence (star anise, clove) infuses a lot of pep to the attack of mouth. Then, in the process, bunches of white grapes release a wonderfully tart juice and notes of green grass give it a lot of freshness and going. Very gourmet, the mid-palate invites us to pick a variety of vegetables (zucchini, pumpkin, tomato, eggplant). The finish is honey (lime) and oily (sunflower).
  • Finish – Long, fluffy. From now on, it is the exotic fruits (mango, passion, pineapple) which take the leading role. They are accompanied by some red fruits (raspberry, strawberry) and black (blackberry, blackcurrant). This taste development is a real bath of youth for the taste buds. He also demonstrates that this Glenturret is never short of arguments. The retro-olfaction is spicy (star anise, ginger), vanilla and menthol. The empty glass reveals notes of porridge.

—- From LMdW website with an imperfect google translation from French.

La Maison du Whisky Artist #8 sans Sherry

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LMdW Artist #8 – Benrinnes 20 year 49.4%

We kicked off exploring the full range of the new La Maison du Whisky Artist #8 with a non-Sherry Benrinnes.

This was a far cry from my first encounter with Benrinnes which was a Single Malts of Scotland bottle of a 24 year old cask strength. That one was harsh and medicinal. And this one? Read on…

Benrinnes 20 year (1995/2018) Hogshead Cask #9063 49.4% (279 bottles)

  • Nose – Started a bit dusty, light fruit, mild and subdued… then started to evolve… even more pronounced fruits, vanilla sponge cake, sweet dry grass
  • Palate – Again soft and mild, gently sweet and exceedingly easy to sip, slightly “rusty”, then a bit spicy
  • Finish – Lightly bitter and nutty, sweet, spice and a bit metallic

Much more enjoyable and interesting than my previous encounter.  When I later read the tasting notes, thought they were rather apt!

As for what it would set you back? SGD395.

And what do the folks at La Maison du Whisky have to say?

  • Nose – Refined, complex. At first, the aromatic palette is covered in a thin layer of arnica and peppermint aromas. Then, everything shatters, ceding to notes of green malt, cut hay and incredibly juicy fruits (white grape, canary melon, Louis bonne pepper). The longer it is left to breathe, the more concentrated it becomes. Vanilla pod and acacia honey bring lots of consistency.
  • Palate – Elegant, rich. On the attack, the vanilla pod has developed into a creamy custard and numerous aromatic plants (verbena, sage, rosemary), highlighting its pleasant freshness. The mid-palate is characterized by notes of polish (beeswax, emery cloth) and honey (still acacia). The spicy (grated ginger, cinnamon) end of the palate struts its stuff.
  • Finish – Long, airy. Green almond and fresh walnut appear alongside freshly cut hay. Then, unexpectedly and with originality, it develops notes of green olive and lime. The luscious (sorrel, lemon balm) retronasal olfaction is slightly peppery and sprinkled with a few grains of salt. The empty glass faithfully reproduces the medicinal notes of the initial nose, adding cocoa bean and praline.

—-From LMdW website transition from French.

La Maison du Whisky Artist #8 sans Sherry

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LMdW Artist #8 sans Sherry – Benrinnes, Glenturret, Bruichladdich, Caol Ila, Ardmore

La Maison du Whisky has created special Artist Series… at Whisky Live Singapore 2018 in Singapore, they featured their new 8 Series.

This time, they split the approach into non-sherry and sherry, with two different artists. We sampled them in the suggested order, alternating between non-sherry and sherry whiskies.

For the non-sherry whiskies, the artist selected was French photographer Jérémie Lenoir. As they share

“Immerse yourself in an ode to the purity of the elements and the natural graphics of the earth’s surface through the five labels of this new range.”

La Maison du Whisky Artist #8 sans Sherry

I personally thought each label remarkably fit the character of each whisky:

Brilliant chose of expressions and images to match!

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Smoky Night – Kilchoman Loch Gorm 46%

Last in our Whisky LadiesSmoky Night” evening was this Islay – Kilchoman’s full sherry expression – Loch Gorm.

What did we think?

Kilchoman Loch Gorm 46%

  • Nose – Mmmmmm…. lovely tobacco, sea salt, smoke, mixed with Christmas cheer, some orange twist, dried fruits and sweet spices
  • Palate – Yum! Soft and buttery, chocolate, peat rolling around with a clear sherry dry richness
  • Finish – Gorgeous peat

For many, this was proper peat and sweet dram – a full, robust and satisfying whisky.

More than anything else, this evening was a terrific reminder that tasting order and environment makes all the difference!

After the rather disappointing Bunnahabhain, this Loch Gorm was “Oh yeah!” The peat hit just the right note and the sweet was also quite welcome.

Whereas for the Bombay Malt and Cigar lads, we sampled this same whisky after a trio of unpeated sherry drams. And the one just before – the BenRiach – was particularly spectacular. So when we got to the Loch Gorm it was a bit of a shock to the palate.

And what do the Kilchoman folks have to say about Loch Gorm?

  • Nose – Orange peel, cloves, caramel and mixed spice with waves of fruit cake and citrus.
  • Palate – A beautiful balance of spicy richness, cooked fruits, chocolate with layers of brown sugar sweetness and earthy peat smoke
  • Finish – Mouth-filling peat smoke, lasting tropical sweetness, toffee and rich dried fruit.

The biggest distinction here being 100% oloroso sherry cask matured… As the Kilchoman folks put it:

It is common for distilleries to use a variety of sherry producers but for our consistent quality and character, it is vital that we source them all from just one bodega. We select a combination of sherry butts and hogsheads from Jose Miguel Martin that provides two separate styles of maturation.

These ex-oloroso sherry casks impart a combination of heavy sherry notes, spicy dark chocolate, rich fruits and burnt sugar. This balances beautifully with the Kilchoman peat smoke and citrus fruits found within our farm crafted spirit.

For us, the results worked!

Our Smokey Night with the Whisky Ladies also included:

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Smokey Night – Bunnahabhain Chuach-Mhona 50%

We continued our smokey explorations with Bunnahabhain…. typically known as the one Islay distillery that typically doesn’t use peat. Yet more and more you will find Bunnahabhain flirting with variations of peat.

Bunnahabhain Chuach-Mhona 50%

  • Nose – Shy yet familiar, a bit sharp and came across as immature, initially not so peaty, some spice, a bit of zing, honey, hay, sweet grass and then a bit of smoke and ash
  • Palate – Direct, burnt toast
  • Finish – Spice
  • Water – Much sweeter and brought out a pleasant cinnamon

To be honest, this was the most disappointing whisky of the bunch. It was surprising how there was both minimal peat and how young it seemed, missing so many elements we appreciate in a good dram.

And what do the Bunnahabhain folks have to say?

Gaelic for ‘peat stack’, this malt has strong influences of peat and sea salt. 

  • Colour – Pale gold
  • Nose – Crisp and lively sweet peat, with herbal hay, dry smoke and burning grass
  • Palate – Starting light, malty and sweet, developing into smoky white pepper and seaweed saltiness
  • Finish – Lingering dry smokiness with seaweed and spice

Our Smokey Night with the Whisky Ladies also included:

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Smokey Night – Kilchoman Machir Bay 46%

Next up in our Smokey Night with the Whisky Ladies was a familiar friend – Kilchoman’s Machir Bay.

While I may be on sampling opportunity No 5 (or is it 6) for this particular expression, it was the 1st time for the Whisky Ladies and in perfect keeping with our smokey theme.

Kilchoman Machir Bay 46%

  • Colour – Bright straw
  • Nose – A bit musty to start, but then what a fabulous peat, buttery, creamy, sharp spice, cinnamon, vanilla, jasmine? some fresh fruits then a delightful citrus peel
  • Palate – Very smooth, loads of delicious spice! Well balanced, lightly salty, herbal, wood, pepper, cinnamon bark, nicely oily
  • Finish – Gorgeous, long, tingly, lightly bitter, with a nice ashy smoke

Did we enjoy it? Absolutely yes!

As for what the Kilchoman folks have to say about Machir Bay: 

  • Nose – Lemon zest, vanilla and distinct coastal influence give way to floral intensity, juicy peaches, pears, and wafts of rich spices
  • Palate – Bursts of tropical fruit and dried sultanas, warming smoke and waves of honey, malt, butterscotch and rich sweetness
  • Finish – Sherry-soaked fruit, cracked black pepper and sea salt. Long-lasting with layers of citrus sweetness and maritime peat smoke

In terms of the cask, it predominantly relies on ex-Bourbon with approx 20% ex-Sherry.

Our Smokey Night with the Whisky Ladies also included:

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