Bowmore Small Batch Bourbon Cask Matured


Bowmore Small Batch Bourbon Cask Matured NAS, 40% abv, NIS 150.


A friend from shul challenged me to recommend a Scotch Single Malt Whisky for Shemini Atzeres/Simchas Torah Kiddush during the Hakafos. It was an interesting question as up until now, I have taken the opinion that only Blended whisky should be served at a Kiddush and not Single Malt whisky as I consider serving such bottles a bit of a waist and for a number of reasons.


Everyone is standing, things are pretty chaotic with loads of food being passed around and lots of noise from people chatting and kids playing. Everything including drinks are all served in plastic disposable plates and cups. Almost everyone at the Kiddush who will drink whisky have little appreciation for single malt and treat it like blended whisky or even vodka or Arak and simply nock it back in one go. All these things are not exactly conducive to the appreciating and enjoyment of single malt whisky. Added to this, there is of course the considerable price difference between blends and even the cheapest of single malts. Lastly, anything brought to the shul ought to have a teudat hechshir and it is a a lot easier to find blended whisky with reliable kosher certification printed on the label than single malt.


Consequently, in the past, my response to such questions as well as to seeing expensive bottles of single malt whisky at a Kiddush being shloshed back like grape juice has been that I think it is a terrible busha!

I could have simply dismissed his question out of hand and given a response similar to my rant above but I decided to give it a bit more thought before answering to reassess my position. Why? Because prices of single malt whisky have been dropping quite dramatically over the past year and I’ve noticed that more and more Israelis seem to be appreciating single malts.

So, what we are looking for is a single malt which is only slightly more expensive than the average NIS 100 bottle of Blended whisky you usually see at a Kiddush (such as a Grants, Johnny Walker…), it has to be very approachable, that is, easy drinking in a casual environment but at the same time give you a considerably higher quality whisky experience compared to blends and come with a good teudat hechshir. Few! Is there such a whisky out there?

Going to my local Yerushalayim wine store I actually found no less than three single malts on offer for NIS 150 a bottle with a reliable teudat hechshir printed on the label. (By the way, I have not forgotten the Glenfiddich 14 YO Rich Oak with Manchester Beis Din certification but at NIS 200, it is in my opinion out of the price range criteria for a Kiddush).

  • Tomintoul 10-Year-Old. (OU Certification)
  • Auchentoshan American Oak. (KLBD Certification)
  • Bowmore Small Cask Bourbon Cask Matured. (KLBD Certification)



 
All three boxes show Kashrus Certification at the back. excellent!



However, only two of these three I would actually recommend....

Tomintoul 10-Year-Old. 40% abv. NIS 150



In the interests of Kiddush clubs around the world I purchased these three to give them my honest opinion. It may come as a considerable surprise to anyone who follows my blog and knows that I have praised Tomintoul whisky in the past to read that I do not recommend this current Tomintoul 10-Year-Old even if it is the only “Aged Statement” whisky on this list!

Let me tell you that I have been drinking the 10-Year-Old on and off for many years now and have always thoroughly enjoyed its previously light fruity, floral flavours and would not have hesitated to recommend it to anyone wanting to get into single malts. However, this bottle I purchased only a few weeks ago was simply awful, I would go so far as to say, undrinkable!

I wrote to the distillery a number of weeks ago telling them that there must be something wrong with this batch but have up to this date, sadly received no reply or explanation.

Dear Sir/Madam,

 

The last time I tasted Tomintoul 10 it was light, sweet fruity, floral. The spirit was slightly young but nevertheless I recommended it.

 

This bottle however I bought a month ago in Jerusalem, is completely different.

 

There is a definite smell of new feints and sulphur off note, a metallic burnt chemical flavour, aniseed, nail polish remover with a hint of stewed apricots and an unpleasant chemical sulphur finish. There is something wrong here.

 

It was very difficult to read the bottling stamp but I think I've got it right.

 

L16 01688 CB2

12.31.22 02.16

Blessings from Jerusalem, Israel

 

 

Auchentoshan American Oak. Bottled at 40% abv, NIS 150





Unfortunately, I have no time to give the Auchentoshan a full review as I want to get this out before Shabbos but I do recommend it highly. The whisky has been matured in fresh and very active first fill American Ex-Bourbon casks to give maximum flavour in the shortest amount of time. It is young NAS whisky and has, even at the minimum of 40% abv, a bit of an alcohol spirit nip on it indicative of young whisky (which those who are used to standard Blends would I suppose enjoy).


The colour is bright orangy indicating lots of caramel E150a colouring added to it. This is a pity as one would have thought that being matured in fresh active casks, the natural colour would have been pleasing enough for the marketing department but apparently not. Adding a drop of water however reduces that nip and opens the whisky up to reveal a dram full of rich (if I had to criticize, perhaps slightly too much) sweet vanilla and caramel, milky toffee, honey and is a very drinkable dram. It has a clean fresh taste but nothing outstanding about it, except that is the excellent price.


Bowmore Small Batch Bourbon Cask Matured. Bottled at 40% abv, NIS 150



I actually haven’t purchased a Bowmore for quite a few years having not been impressed with their expressions I’ve tasted for some time. However, I was intrigued by this expression, not only because of the price but the fact that it is aimed at beginners to the world of single malts and therefore designed to be very approachable, coming from Islay as it does, is purported to be rather coastal peated. Intriguing indeed.

Pouring the Bowmore into a Glencairn glass it has a pleasing pale bronze colour. If they have added E150a colouring, then it is very little.

It swirls around the glass very freely with alcohol tears dropping down the inside of the glass immediately giving it a very watery consistency. It is obviously chilled filtered as the whisky is crystal clear and clean looking. Actually, a little too clean and clear looking.

On the nose

Very mild nose feel like enjoying the empty glass after the last drop of whisky has been drained. There is in fact very little alcohol spirit influence at all. Quite often with NAS whiskies, the whisky is very young and you find the spirit under matured, too fresh and fiery and lacking cask maturity. Young frisky whiskies can give you some serious nose burn and numb the palette like drinking surgical spirit. No such fear with this whisky. I could have said that this is as laid back and relaxing as watching a local village cricket match on a Sunday afternoon but this is a Jewish Whisky blog so instead I’ll describe this Bowmore as laid back as relaxing in your Sukkah on first day Chol HaMoed, your phone is switched off and you are looking up at the “skach” (Sukkah Roof), without a care in the world contemplating Hashem's many blessings he has bestowed upon you . (Sounds good?)

There is a subtle earthy briny coastal peaty barley smell. Damp sea air barley “green malt” smell.  In the background, there is a barely noticeable whiff of green forest pine bathroom cleaner or perhaps those green paper pine trees dangling from your car mirror but it is only a whiff. Much more dominant is a lovely old distillery dunnage warehouse - wood and earth floor aromas. Fresh Ex-Bourbon wood smell. Sweet barley and honey travel sweets.

Tasting Notes


Mouth fill is ridiculously light and watery as if someone had accidentally poured in far too much water to the glass and completely drowned it. There is virtually no substance or alcohol weight to this whisky at all. It was like an exceptionally fine whisky had been watered down too much and leaving only a hint to its former greatness.

Some will love this light easy going ultra-user friendly character. As an experienced whisky drinker, I found it was the biggest negative by far. Here was a single malt Scotch whisky (at least according to the label, meeting the official legal minimum definition of the term) with all the potential to be a lovely dram but behaving as if it had been bottled at 25% abv.

So what are these remnants of greatness? You have sweet burnt corn syrup and honey confectionary like Seaside toffee honeycomb, a hint of pineapple juice, slight bitterness of grapefruit initially which dissipates leaving a sweet oaked chardonnay wine taste with a subtle peaty earthy seaweed dampness.  It starts off in the mouth watery, then there is a really quite delicious fruity taste in the mouth and in the middle of the tongue but the liquid disappears down the throat all too quickly, leaving a watery drowned taste in the mouth.

I would recommend this whisky to a beginner drinker who wants to get a hint of what an Islay peated whisky is without diving head first into a glass of Ardbeg 10 or Laphroaig 10. It is so easy going that it would be the perfect choice for someone buying a whisky for Shemini Atzeres/Simchas Torah Kiddush who wanted to supply something far more superior than a standard blend but only spending a little more to do it. It can be enjoyed straight from the bottle without the need to waste time adding water.

 

Conclusion:


If you are looking for a single malt which only costs a little more than a descent Blend, comes with Kashrus Certification and gives people a far more enjoyable drinking experience yet remains friendly and easy going straight from the bottle, look no further than either the Auchentoshan American Oak or the Bowmore Small Cask Bourbon Cask. I would say that they both meet all the requirements for a Kiddush friendly single malt.

So, if you think that there are people in your shul who would appreciate drinking single malts, even under such restrictive conditions (plastic cups etc….) and you don’t mind spending the extra money then go for it. As for me, I think I’ll be donating a 1 Litre bottle of Grants as per usual. (Sorry guys, maybe next year!).


 

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