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Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Scotch Review: Bowmore Small Batch & Glen Moray 12 Year

By John Barecki & Friends

To spice things up a little bit and to learn more of other peoples' perspectives I thought it would be fun to get some of my co-workers and friends together to try some new whiskies, collect what they experience and compile their findings. I find that listening to what other people are picking up while enjoying whisky and comparing it to your own findings helps you understand the full spectrum of aromas and flavors available in these spirits. The best way I found to do a tasting like this is to accept that we all have our own palates, and that we perceive smells and tastes differently from one another. Some things will ring clear to all in the room while others may clash and pull away as opposites. Either way you come out looking at these wonderful liquids in a new light and have a bit of fun while doing so.

For our tasting, we chose a relatively new expression from the Bowmore and a lovely 12-year expression from the Glen Moray. These two whiskies are imbued with idiosyncrasies of the areas that surround them — not to mention the methods by which they are distilled — but they also take notes from around the world to create their final crescendo.

The Bowmore has maritime/seaside notes with a hint of smokiness from the environment on Islay, as well as sweet and nutty characteristics from the bourbon barrels used for aging. The Glen Moray 12 Year follows a different path, producing fruity and earthy flavors akin to autumn while holding on to a rounder style that is reminiscent of a herbaceous white wine. While both whiskies hold to their different styles and are good examples of the differences between the two distilleries, they do have some things in common. The tasting notes listed here are compiled from the five of us who tasted.

Glen Moray 12 Year

  • Nose — Vanilla and honey, a bit of slightly burnt caramel with floral and earthy notes of fall, apple and candied citrus, a little bit of cocoa and spice.
  • Palate — Velvety mouthfeel, fruity and baking-spice notes, a touch of tobacco and oak with a bit of char on it all surrounded by light vanilla and caramel.
  • Finish — Earth and spice, charred oak with a slight smoke, returning tobacco with ginger and nutty characteristics peppered in.
  • The Numbers — Glen Moray 12 Year (40%ABV) is available at Siciliano's for $37.99/750ml.

Bowmore Small Batch

  • Nose — Earthy, peat smoke and oak, slightly tropical fruit notes with apple chunks thrown in, sweet vanilla and sea side maritime characteristics (mineral and salt). 
  • Palate — Oily, a bit phenolic, sweet, spice and smoke with a vanilla-covered fruity core.
  • Finish — Smoke and earth with bits of black pepper and pipe tobacco, sea spray and brine, long and lingering on the palate.
  • The Numbers — Bowmore Small Batch (40% ABV) is bourbon-cask matured and available at Siciliano's fro $39.99/750ml.
Both of these are fine examples of single-malt Scotch whiskies. With distinct flavors apparent from the use of divergent techniques and aging styles, they touch on the characteristics of “terrior” or a sense of place, showing off aspects representative of the different production areas for both whiskies. More importantly, the end product of this tasting was a success for me. We all analyzed what was in front of us according to our own capacities and found what we liked individually and collectively. Tasting in groups can be quite fun in that it introduces people to something they might not try normally and allows them to experience a range of products in one sitting.  No doubt it can be an informative and effective way of honing your individual palate.

The tasting group.


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