We’re back on
Islay with Bowmore for its latest Global Traveller Exclusive, aimed at folk
fortunate enough to be able to afford to fly somewhere this year. Menacingly
titled Black Rock, this edition is to showcase the best of Bowmore through the
finest sherry and bourbon casks.
As with all
marketing bull nowadays the whisky is named after a local landmark. I’m sure
the distilleries on Islay must have a secret meeting place where they carve up
the island and local mythology to ensure they have enough material for the forthcoming
season. For Bowmore its Black rock is an outcrop located in Loch Indaal and is
a symbol of the dangerous environment that surrounds Islay. Anyone who has been
on the Cal Mac ferry to Islay will testify to the skill of the ferrymen when
the waves become a little choppy.
It is hard
sometimes to keep up with the onslaught of No Age Statement whiskies for travel
retail. New for 2014 the Black Rock forms the entry point for a trio of new traveller
exclusives from the distillery. Next up the chain is Gold Reef (mostly first
fill bourbon casks) before we reach the summit in the shape of the 17 year old
White Sands, which is just the staple 17 year old rebranded. Odd really, we’re
told age statements don’t really matter yet for the flagship release they’ll
put it on the label anyway?
I have previously
reviewed the 100 Degrees Proof traveller exclusive here and although it was a
little fierce I found it for the asking price to be one of the better options whilst
parading through an airport. Sadly that expression is no more and Black Rock
comes in at a much lower strength but the same price point. The foundations are
the same with a mixture of bourbon and sherry casks, but there are more
drawbacks in Black Rock which I’ll come back to after the tasting notes.
Distilled: a No
Age Statement whisky
to pay around £50 for a 1 litre bottle at travel retail or it is available via
some online websites
first fill ex-Spanish sherry casks
overdone cinder toffee
Nose: from the
off it’s that familiar and comforting aroma of fruit loaf with a touch of
spicing. Then dark chocolate with a twist of black pepper before the
arrival of those crispy thin wafers you’d always christen an ice cream cone
with. More sweetness with fresh blackcurrant jam and a faint echo of peat.
addition of water more sweetness comes through with dried oranges and floral
this is too watery, even with lots of brown sugar and caramelised figs with
that peat influence carrying through onto the palate. There is a slight
metallic edge to proceedings that I can only characterise as Irn Bru; the most
famous of Scottish fizzy drinks. With water the fragile nature of the taste
profile is utterly torpedoed, so be very gentle when adding.
Even for travel
retail I find this overpriced and far too watery at 40% alcohol strength. The
nose is a lovely piece of engineering and very engaging. Sadly it sets the bar
too high and the palate is pretty tame in comparison. Then we have that slight
metallic edge which brings me back to the colour of this whisky; there is far
too much caramel colouring (E150) added and I’m sure that’s what I am picking
upon the palate. The sherry casks will only give you so much colouring at a
young age and there’s plenty of young whisky in here, but to achieve that rich
darkness to mirror the name, Bowmore has overdone the colouring.
with Bowmore Distillery and its continuing avoidance of true greatness (that it
should warrant) looks set to continue for a little while longer. I’m unable to
recommend this whisky and I’ll do my best to pick up the other 2 bottles in
this series to complete a thorough examination. Here’s hoping as we move up the
chain that the higher price points improve the whisky.
Labels: black rock, bowmore, bowmore black rock review, islay, nas, review, taste, whisky