I've drank Bowmore 12 over the course of the last 18 years. Back in the days when Jim McEwan was in charge, (releases from 12 years and over) it was different, more salty, briny, pungent (and it was also different before him). I've had amazing Bowmore 12, 15, 18, I've had pretty normal ones. Then, tonight, I went to the liquor store to buy a bourbon and left with a Bowmore 12, which was on sale. Tell me about incentives. I thought "Oh well, it's going to be ok." But no, I was simply amazed by the highest quality of this batch: dark honey, citrus notes, long with lingering peat smoke, ash, heather, oak, sea salt, leather after-taste, I was like "Wow, WTF did happen with this new batch?" Then I went to read a few comments here to see if there would be such delights recently online, but no. When you read through the comments, some say it's great, some say it's disappointing. I think it's the problem with the "whole" whisky industry: drinkers are not educated to learn batches differ (sometimes greatly) from one another. This is not beer, vodka or gin, this is whisky. No two barrels are alike, the climate changes from year to year, the position of the barrel in the warehouse will influence the taste of whisky, etc. Bottomline: You can't replicate the same exact taste over and over again. Impossible. Yet, we live in a marketing world where folks believe they will get the exact same tasting profile from bottling of different years. This is insanity, ignorance. Look at older pre-1990's Macallan's, long, luxurious, then 2000's were more disappointing, then today they've dropped altogether the age statement and surf on the brand's reputation and they are tripling production. Think whisky taste the same year over year? Think again, you might fall on a stellar batch, like you might fall on a disappointing batch. Like wine or anything vintage, give it a try year over year, you never know. Stuff gets better, stuff gets worse. Unfortunately, we live in the dark ages when it comes to whisky, I don't know which batch of Bowmore 12 I'm drinking tonight, but it's downright amazing, better than the ones I've had last year or before. Eddie MacAffer, current master distiller, is retiring soon (after over 30 years working at the distillery) and expect more change in the taste of Bowmore in the years to come, like any other whisky brands. In the end, tonight, right here, right now, regardless of the low price I've paid, the complexity and balance found here is phenomenal.
20th February 2016