Bowmore Black Rock Single Malt Review


Global Travel Retail or what we used to know as Duty Free, except unfortunately unless you are leaving the EU is no longer actually Duty Free. GTR is where upon browsing the shelves of the likes of World Duty Free or World of Whiskies you can find yourself looking at a lot of expressions that you cannot find in supermarkets, your local bottle shop or even the online whisky specialists. It's a clever trick that spirit producers have cottoned on too so as to lure us into thinking we are receiving something premium and unique. Often though what we are getting in these 'unique and interesting' expressions are essentially experiments. For example, Bushmills have been selling their cask experiments under the 'Steamship Collection' guise with two no age statement expressions so far, both expensive (between £80 & £100 per bottle), not really that good in comparison to there standard range and they definitely do not represent value for money.


My experience so far with GTR bottlings has been mixed. So to start the ball rolling we'll discuss the Bowmore Black Rock! Released in 2014 for the GTR market it has been matured predominantly in ex-sherry casks. It is part of a GTR trilogy which also includes the Bowmore Gold Reef and Bowmore White Sands 17 year old expressions, both of which are ex-bourbon cask matured. The Black Rock is bottled at 40% abv in a one litre bottle and generally reatils for around £50. Unfortunately, Bowmore have chosen to employ the unholy trinity of whisky evil on this expression also - colouring, chill-filtration and bottled at 40%.


Colour: 

E150 caramel spray tan (hint of copper)

Nose:

Fruit & dark chocolate pannetone, cracked black pepper, toffee and light Islay peat smoke.

Palate:

Very thin & watery, initial puff of smoke, a hint of toffee and sherry then nothing. Very weak showing here. Definitely does not match up to the well engineered nose.

Finish:

Short to non-existent. Unfortunately the bitter burnt plastic note that was so vivid in the Small Batch shows up here again. I couldn't pick up on any of the fruit/chocolate/sherry that the nose promised. Not pleasant.

Overall:

Oh. Dear. Bowmore, what is this that you have put your name too? I'm going to go out on a limb here....this is the second worst whisky I have ever tasted, bested (or worsted) on the bad whisky front only by that Western Gold muck you buy in Lidl. Really it is that bad, and to ask £50 a bottle in my mind is daylight robbery. £50 is a fairly significant sum of money for many people to spend on a bottle of whisky and at that price you really should be expecting a quality product. This is definitely not quality and should never be in the £50 price bracket. If it was in a 700ml bottle it would retail at £35 which would still be way too much because to be frank this doesn't even deserve to be bottled in the first place. It is unfortunate that a brand with the history of Bowmore even feels that it can put out rubbish like this knowing that people will buy it because of their name. It is purely profit over product, style (& branding) over substance. 

Now before you think I am a Bowmore hater, let me assure you I'm not. I know they can make really good whiskies and a forthcoming review will showcase that. But in this instance it is a poor showing and a whisky that I really cannot recommend on any level.

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