SMWS 3.326 “En Garde” Bowmore 17 Year Refill Ex-Guyanese Rum Barrel Finish (2004)

Scotch Whisky Review #429: SMWS 3.326 “En Garde” Bowmore 17 Year Refill Ex-Guyanese Rum Barrel Finish (2004)

Distillery: Bowmore.

Bottler: SMWS.

Region: Islay.

Age: 17 Year. Distilled on February 16th 2004, Bottled in 2021.

ABV: 56.0%.

Cask Type: Refill Ex-Guyanese Rum Barrel Finish.

Cask Number: 3.326.

Price: Day 1 of Advent Calendar (see below).

Color: 0.6, Old Gold.

This dram is the second of 2022’s Christmas Countdown! Whiskies from previous years can be found here.

Every year, I look at the advent calendar offerings that pop up across the pond and think that it would be super cool to do something like that (it is actually the inspiration for my review spree in December). Turns out, I wasn’t the only one who wanted to do one so between /u/federalagents, /u/DangerousDoorknob, and I we put our own together! This is the first dram (despite it being marked #10) of the calendar. It was reviewed partially blind as in I know the whiskies in the calendar but not the order.

Nose: Seems like it should be some kind of ex-wine cask? It is very dessert wine-esque, I’m thinking of a very sweet white wine or something even more sugary like ice wine. You get a slightly funky and fruity note that reminds me of white grapes that are about to turn. A bit of lemon juice, perhaps limoncello even, comes through as well.

Palate: There’s a bit of smoke, it starts as a hint before building up a little bit. It never gets overpowering, but remains in the frame all the same. Sweet dessert wine notes really take hold to the point where it reminds me mostly of a few sauternes I’ve had though not quite as sugary. It has a bit of heat but a small splash of water cools it down instantly.

Finish: Fairly short. There’s a hit of smoke and a bit of minerality.

Guess: Scotland, Malt Whisky, Highland, Peated Glenturret, 10-14 years of age, 56-59% ABV.

Reveal: SMWS 3.326 “En Garde” Bowmore 17 Year Refill Ex-Guyanese Rum Barrel Finish (2004).

Conclusion: Well I wasn’t going to guess that ever! This SMWS bottling is very different than any other Bowmore I’ve had. I’ve made the comment to /u/b1uepenguin, who was tasting his sample at the same time, that I wondered if the cask overtook this too much. I enjoyed it, absolutely, but certainly felt it was a bit more impressive when I thought it was a relatively young whisky vs. an middle aged Bowmore. It felt a bit simplistic, dessert wine with a bit of smoke, yet tasty all the same. While a bottle of this would probably get me in trouble, I could probably drink it very quickly, I don’t know if I’d want to put up the money for one. Still, great dram to start on!

Final Score: 81.

Scotch Whisky Review #429, Islay Review #71, Whisky Network Review #583

Scoring Legend:

  • 96-100: The perfect dram, nectar of the gods.
  • 90-95: Near perfect, there is something truly special about this whisky and I will always try to keep a bottle of this in my collection if feasible.
  • 85-89: Very good to amazing, almost the complete product and I’m likely wanting a bottle or two.
  • 80-84: Quite good, pleasant overall though there is usually a few things that could be improved still.
  • 75-79: Good, enjoyable to drink but ultimately flawed.
  • 70-74: Alright, solid and wouldn’t go out of my way to get it.
  • 60-69: Meh, still drinkable.
  • Below 59: If you have a bottle of this, start cooking with it instead.

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