Good, but the one it replaces was better, still
I've had a couple of bottles of the old Bowmore 17 this new 18 replaces. I like some peat, but there has to be enough other things going on, too. That's what the Bowmore 17 did... brilliantly. If you like a strongly peated malt, you'll probably prefer the replacement over the 17ywill . Me, however, I'm sad to see the old 17 go. Now, to be clear, this 18y is still a very, very well balanced whisky, but to me, the 17 was sort of a benchmark. There were very little drams that could match the price/quality ratio of the old bottling. Time to look for a new benchmark?
Some notes (it's been ~24 hours, it's as I recall the notes I made):
On the nose, the spirit is very gentle at first: some lemon zest, or rather orange zest, quickly followed by the typical iodine, peat (not as much as I had anticipated, though) and vanilla. Something else, rather refreshing, and surprizing I found was pear.
Take a sip and at first (like half a second or so) there's no hint of peat. Just a load of fruits pop into your head: peach, mango, black-current even some raspberry and at one point, I thought I got some banana, too.
These fruits are then overcast with smokey, toffee and dark chocolate, along with vanilla. I wouldn't be surprized to learn that for this particular batch, they cracked open a cask of age 20+
After a couple of minutes, comes the point I looked forwared to the most. The old 17 had this really strong floral note (some notes on-line mention "blossom", others call it "soapy"). To me, it tastes of "Love-in-idleness" (viola/violettes), the flowers. The dark chocolate aroma subsides a bit, and becomes sweeter. The mouth-feel is silky smooth and warm, but again here: there's a really refreshing taste, too (lemon again?)
Other things I remember jotting down (I may have scratched them out seconds later) were: black pepper, white chocolate mouse (oily, egg yolk, lots of sugar => sticky sweetness), ginger, smoked meat/BBQ
Now, the initial question was: time to look for a new bench-mark?
Sort of: amoungst the island whiskies, the Bowmore 18 (and the Lagavulin 16) still reign supreme within their price brackets. On the scottish mainland, though, the Highland Park 18, and the surprizingly charming The Glenlivet Nadurra and Glenfarclass 105 are just too much.
Where the Bowmore 17 may have been less well balanced, it had this distinct character that made it stand out and feel like a very special drink. The bowmore 18 feels just too balanced. It's like a Buddhist Monk: you can't argue with them. They're at peace, balanced. I'd rather go into an argument with someone a little less perfect...
9th October 2013
Reminds me of American bourbon, not exactly a compliment, as I don't like those oily, floral notes of bourbons. On the nose,I found this is fairly peaty, which surprised me since I detected little on the palate. On the palate, it's perfumy, floral, oily. I struggle to rate this, as I feel it's probably considered a pretty well-made whisky, but it isn't my passion. I much prefer the Bowmore 15-year "Darkest" which has none of the bourbon feel and tastes more like an Islay Scotch whisky. This tastes nothing like an Islay Scotch whisky.