Bowmore Tempest 10 Year Old (V) Review - Peated Cask Strength with Finesse

Photo credit: Benoit Bailey

Photo credit: Benoit Bailey

Bowmore Tempest 10 Year Old - Release V
Bowmore Distillery
Taste Score: 91
Category: Single Malt Scotch, 10 Years Old, Cask Strength
Whisky Cabinet Score: ★ ★ ☆ ☆ 

By every comparison, the Bowmore Tempest is the opposite of the mild please-all peated Bowmore 12 Year Old scotch. Bowmore Tempest is the whisky for a growing enthusiasts. It has all the flavor one would expect in non-chill filtered cask strength scotch, without the intensity many cask strength whiskies hold. 

The key to this whisky is the barrel selection. Most single malts sold are aged in American oak barrels used previously to make bourbon. Most distilleries re-use these barrels multiple times. Like when making tea, each time tea is steeped, the bag offers less in flavor. When making bourbon, virgin oak barrels offer those deep rich caramel sweet notes come from the oak. 

Once Scotland gets the barrels, they are far gentler on the whisky. That's good, because the grain used in scotch (malted barely) would easily be overpowered by brand new oak. In Scotland, when they first receive a barrel and use it to make scotch, it's considered a first-fill barrel. First-fill and second-fill barrels are the sweet spot for many high-flavored whiskies. With Bowmore Tempest, the batch is a blend of all first-fill American oak barrels. The age statement is ten years.

I'm a big fan of the Bowmore Tempest release. It's intended to be punchy at 55.9% ABV, but there's character underneath that's best described as a finesse of flavors. It's like a dense smoked lemon tart with a crust that's perfectly buttery and sweetened with brown sugar. If that sounds delicious to you, and you don't mind a gentler high-proof whisky, this is a great buy.

Nose: Smoky charred oak, vanilla, and citrus. Some darker caramel and dark chocolate notes on the back. A surprisingly mild tempered combination.

Palate: A nice charred oily smokiness coats the tongue from start to finish. The vanilla highs and caramel sweetness peek out. The caramel evolves beautifully toward the middle and into the finish. A wonderful oak spice takes hold of the palate in the middle of the profile, and expands out to the finish. Parts of this whisky are reminiscent of a lemon tart. There's notes of dark chocolate, and cinnamon spice. The smokiness continues to seal the deal in this whisky.

Conclusion: Bowmore doesn't mess around with its core audience. It's not a big cask strength bash, and instead, it's got finesse from the nose to the finish. As with any high-proof scotch, the flavors do take time to build. 

*Whisky Cabinet Rating Explained:
☆ ☆ ☆ ☆  Not recommended
★ ☆ ☆ ☆  Good whisky, but not a ‘must-have’
★ ★ ☆ ☆  Your great regular rotation whisky that'll come and go
★ ★ ★ ☆  Excellent, a near must-have
★ ★ ★ ★  Extraordinary, memorable, and original