Bowmore Small Batch & Glenfiddich Millennium Vintage 2012 tasting notes

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A while ago, I was talking to Femke Tijtsma Sijtsma, one of the rare whisky women in my list of contacts. I don’t mean to be degrading or so, it’s just a fact that for some or other reason, women are a rarity in the whisky world.

This girl however is as fond of the Water Of Life as I am, and she is the driving force behind www.whiskygirl.nl, a blog I can quite recommend, as it holds a nice blend of reviews of and stories about whisky.

She kindly proposed me to send me a few samples in exchange for a review of each dram and a personal story about my love affair with the drink.

Yesterday, a bright pink envelope landed in my mailbox, and the girly theme continued with a very colourful postcard, bearing kind greetings from nearby Leeuwarden and two lovely sample tubes with, again, some very feminine labels… I know I’m being treated to a Speysider with the Glenfiddich, but to adorn the label with flowers… Really, Femke …

But then again, it was a package from WhiskyGIRL and who am I to criticize a free sample or 2. Now, without further ado, let’s dash on to the tasting notes, shall we !

Bowmore Small Batch

Bowmore’s Small Batch is a Non-Age Statement Whisky from Islay, probably distilled somewhere in the mid-2000s, after having matured exclusively in first and second fill ex bourbon casks. Both are blissfully married together to give this lovely NAS end result; a sweet, spicy and mildy smoky whisky.

Its colour is bright gold. A few swishes leave little or no oily touch in the glass, which is a tad disappointing.

On the nose, vanilla and toffee dominate in the gentlest of ways. Peat is mildy present too, lightly muddy peat; you cannot miss this dram’s origins but again in the most subtle of ways. I also got some candlewax, cinnamon and the slightest hint of pine. Something coastal all in all…

The palate is treated to pine as well; the saltiness is there from the coast, some citrus (vague) and, again, vanilla and something akin to passion fruit or mango juice. Coconut is present too, as well as some violet.

The finish is long and floral, with an undertone of smoke. Some traces of brine and salt and also some lemon. It all fades in a fruity finale.

An interesting dram, all in all : Islay meets Speyside, I’d say. In the past, I’ve always guided peat novices to the gentlest of Islays, Bunnahabhain. Now, I have a lovely alternative with Bowmore’s Small Batch.

ABV 40%, 83/100

Glenfiddich Millennium VintageĀ 

Glenfiddich Millennium Vintage 2012, my second sample tube of last night, is something special.

In 2000, some chaps at the eponymous distillery decided to lay aside a few casks and, in 2012, began bottling. The end result is the Millennium Vintage 2012, a World Of Duty Free Travel Range exclusive, limited to 35000 bottles.

So… what we have is actually a Glenfiddich 12 … Did we not have that one already, I hear you say ? Well… yes…

Here lies the difference though : after maturation in European and American oak (like the standard 12Y old), this one got an additional two-month finish in bourbon casks. Nothing more or nothing less Notable difference ? Well, let’s find out, shall we !

Its colour is a full gold with amber highlights, like matured Sauternes.

On the nose, it’s all Speyside : an array of fruit aromas, mainly apricot, apple and mandarin, accompanied by nuts, all wrapped in a scent of, let’s say comfortable/comforting leather; like that chair your grandfather used to sit in on a peaceful Sunday afternoon, you know ?

The apples take front stage on the palate, accompanied by soft poached pears, covered in a seductive chocolate sauce; a sweet taste, yet one which dries rather quick… The European oak is to blame…

The finish is clean and of medium length, fruity with again the poached pears and some coconut; a mouth cleanser.

Overall, I find the Millennium Vintage not too dissimilar from the traditional 12Y old, maybe a bit more character, a dash more aroma and a tad more weight on the palate.

ABC 43%, 85/100

Written by Egon Peeters, August 2014

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