Forgive the brief departure from regaling you with more tales of derring-do in Morocco – it was just about to get really good too, particularly the part when I became really sick…
While I was away, those fine folk at Bowmore sent me a sample of their Small Batch Reserve to try alongside some chocolate goodies (more of the latter later).
I realise I‘ve been a little slack in my whisky tasting of late. This is partly because I‘ve been stuck in a very pleasurable rut drinking Talikser… lost in resonant memories of Skye and the West Coast while shutting out damp evenings in Mancunia.
The shipment from Bowmore was a welcome distraction then.
The Small Batch is in some ways a curious expression of this famous Islay tipple. For those familiar with more ‘regular’ Bowmores such the 12 year old, Darkest or the simply sublime 18 year old, this lighter dram may come as a disappointment.
Small Batch Reserve is matured in first and second fill ex-bourbon casks. This process imbues the younger spirit with a sweetness and creaminess that cuts quite a contrast to its peat smoked brethren.
So how does it fly?
On the nose, there are traces of more familiar Bowmore aromas – salt and smoke – but the overall impression is one of a vanilla and cinnamon.
On first taste, the Small Batch is a real surprise and you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d picked up a malt from another distillery. The sweetness and creaminess is balanced with some salt and spice. For me, I would have liked more ‘savoury’ to balance the sweet but this dram pursues a lighter approach, which may suit more palettes.
The finish of the Small Batch also left me wanting a wee bit. While warm and lingering, the oak was stronger than the peat. I prefer a biscuity, dryer finish to what I might loosely describe as ‘sweeter’ malt whiskies, but the dryness only seemed to materialise at the very end with the Small Batch.
Overall, this is a nice stepping-stone to more weighty Islay malt. The Small Batch can also be found at competitive prices if you shop around, particularly online.
And what of the chocolate? Bowmore has joined forces with gourmet chocolatier Montezuma’s to produce dark chocolate expressions of the Small Batch and the delicious 15-year old Bowmore Darkest. While not normally a fan of mixing these two great pleasures in life, both are superb.
The Small Batch works particularly well, making the cinnamon more pronounced while the Darkest is all treacle! These chocolate bars are limited edition so get ‘em while you can.