Welcome back to another poke around Tim’s Dusty Corner! Each month I give an insight into a bottle from yesteryear that can still be picked up for sensible prices at auction. Recently we’ve had some whiskies bottled a while ago, so I thought this month I’d try something a little less ancient: Bowmore Tempest Batch 3!
Bowmore’s most renowned era is of course the mid to late 1960s, when the spirit that became the Black Bowmore series, the Trilogy series, the Bicentenary bottlings and the Sea Dragon 30 year old was produced. These legendary whiskies now go for four and five figure sums at auction, but the distillery’s reputation suffered a little in the late 1990s and early 2000s after a pronounced and unwelcome perfume / lavender note was found in some of the whiskies distilled in the 1980s.
The mid-to-late 2000s, however, saw Bowmore return to form and the Tempest series was the best of the new official releases (for people with normal-sized pockets). The concept was simple: a ten year old cask strength whisky matured exclusively in first fill bourbon casks. At a time when the whining about No-Age-Statement whiskies was really getting into gear this was a very popular move with the whisky nerd community.
The best thing about the Tempest series was that despite the ‘Small Batch Release’ on the label, it wasn’t exactly limited: the first Tempest was 2000 cases and subsequent editions were likely the same or larger. This kept the original RRP to a very reasonable £40 and, as a secondary benefit, ensured no shortage of these bottles at auction, so the price has stayed low.
When buying Bowmore Tempest at auction, you’re best sticking to the first three editions, which were bottled between 2009-11 and can be picked up for £45-60 – ridiculously good value.
Bowmore Tempest 10 Year Old Batch 3, 55.6%
Nose: Fresh green apples and vanilla, with hints of sea air and a wisp of wet burnt wood, gradually developing a suggestion of cinnamon, apricot and white peach.
Palate: Big and sweet, with prominent citrus and tropical fruit notes: lemon, ripe orange and grapefruit, melon, peach… there’s plenty of vanilla and bourbon from the new oak, but it’s not overpowering the palate as sadly occurred with later batches. Honey, apricots and faint cinnamon and clove spices.
Finish: Warm, long, fruity, sweet and spicy. Very nice indeed.
With Water: This is when this whisky really comes into its own. At the full 55.6% it’s a very good whisky, but a drop of water really sends it into the stars. The vanilla and oak are tamed, allowing a very satisfying explosion of tropical fruit and tinned fruit salad: think syrupy mango and kiwi fruit, some dried apricot, a LOT of melon (the nice kind, not the green stuff), white peach, white grapeflesh and lots of tangy Bowmore citrus – tangerine, mandarin, grapefruit again… just fantastic.
Comment: A great whisky, a little lighter and more subtle than the previous two editions, but no less brilliant. Worth noting, this whisky takes a while to get going in the bottle – I cracked this bottle in December and it was rather closed, but it’s really blossomed now after a couple of months.