Bowmore Tempest (Batch 1) Review

Bowmore Tempest (Batch 1)

56.3% abv

Score:  89/100


I think this was released in 2009 or 2010 (forgive my lack of research).  Does that make me fashionably late?  Or maybe just the slacker who slept in, and now shows up all disheveled and interruptive?

While I concede that I’m not certain of the exact year this was released, I do recall my excitement upon hearing there was to a young, entry level cask strength Bowmore on the shelves.  Of course, like everything else, it would have hit Canadian shores much later than other markets, effectively rendering the release date moot anyway.  Either way…a few words on the first batch of Bowmore Tempest:

With all of the shitty, negative trending going on right now with NAS (No Age Statement) bottlings, there is one trend that I can absolutely get behind.  That of more and more distilleries releasing cask strength malts into their core ranges.  Over the past few years we’ve been lucky enough to see the likes of Glenfiddich Distillery Edition, Glenlivet Nadurra, Auchentoshan Valinch, GlenDronach Cask Strength, nearly every Ardbeg, etc.  Of course, there are also the familiar faces such as Aberlour a’bunadh, Glenfarclas 105 (not CS, but BIG nevertheless), Laphroaig CS, Lagavulin 12, the Port Charlotte PC series, etc.  Good times for flavour junkies. 

At one time Bowmore used to have a cask strength release as well, but that’s a malt I haven’t seen in years, aside from a dram from an old bottle on Islay a couple years back.  Fortunately, however, they’ve now opted to give us the goods as we want ’em: big, bold and relatively unadulterated.  Namely, this 10 year old Tempest and the 15 year old Laimrig.  These whiskies…man…if I had my way these profiles would be the future of the distillery. 

Bowmore has worn many masks over the years.  It’s sort of like the Gary Oldman of Islay malts.  Highly malleable…infinitely chameleonic.  Usually interesting enough to win you over.  The true Bowmore profile is sorta hard to pin down, to be honest, but in the Tempest and Laimrig, Bowmore have really managed to knock it out of the park, and bring back a familiar style that has seemingly been supplanted by a more floral elegance in recent years.  Laimrig carries the sherried heft of smoked Bowmore with flair and a depth of jammy-ness that is a return to an older, more fruity style.  Tempest, on the other hand, brings a more naked (primarily bourbon cask matured, I would assume).  I’m a fan of both, but the Laimrig, in particular, is a showstopper.

As for the Tempest itself…

We’re looking at Batch 1 here.  It’s a deep whisky, balanced and hiding a surprising maturity (beyond 10 years, I’d say).  Subsequent batches are substantially different unfortunately.  Not bad, by any means, but not the same, and definitely not quite as good.  If only this particular dram were replicable and consistent in this incarnation (which it has obviously proven not to be), Tempest would be a rather perfect young whisky.   

Nose:  Smoke and peat, o’course.  Chocolate.  Coffee.  Cracked pepper.  Orange and Lemon.  Some notes that aren’t far off from an Ardbeg.  Caramel and pear.  Some unexpected creaminess.  Baked Alaska. 

Palate:  Sweet candy arrival, through smoke and into licorice.  A lot of fresh squeezed citrus and more cracked pepper.  Either very active bourbon casks leveeing these spicy notes, or a bit of sherry influence.  Either way…crackling with nifty ‘Pop Rock’ surprises.  There’s an earthiness here that hints at Garden Burgers, interestingly enough.

Thoughts:  Hmmm…much like many first editions of named releases, I have a sneaking suspician this was a ‘best foot forward malt’.  (Read: there are some older, better casks in here than we’ll see in future editions.)  Great balance.


– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Curt

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