I confess that I haven't been a huge fan of Bowmore over the decades. My feeling was that big rich expressions were expensive while the affordable entry models lacked intensity. Bowmores have a distinctive flavor profile that dials down Islay's usual big peat and sea air and dials up a nutty fruity aspect more typical of the Highlands. Bowmore Tempest is a cask strength expression aged in first fill bourbon casks for 10 years and served up without chill filtering or coloring. Batch one was lauded in 2009. The sample I'm drinking today is from 2010's Batch 2 (a sample from http://whiskysamples.flyingcart.com/). 2011's Batch 3 is the current offering. I've been anxious to try Tempest to see if they really achieved an affordable Bowmore that really nails their flavor profile in big bold strokes.
Non-chill filtered no coloring added.
Color: rich golden amber
Nose: Sweet with toffee, and brazil nuts. Further nosing reveals almost Speyside-like fruity notes of honeysuckle, pear, and melon. There is spirit heat and some maritime salty airs and warm peaty smoky tinges. In the back there are some mineral notes of gypsum and granite. Complex, big, appetizing. Scrumptious.
Entry is huge with honey, toffee candy and then a big spicy expansion of prickly heat, oak, peat, and bitters. The bitters have herbal and also peat (tar and ash) flavor elements. At the finish the bitter fades to oak tannins and salty sea flats at low tide. Nutty, toffee, fruity, spicy, herbal peaty bitter oaky and salty maritime - these wildly divergent flavor elements kaleidoscope across the palate with each sip. Big, powerful, yet sweet and clearly sporting the Bowmore flavor signature DNA.
A wee drop of water amps up the honeyed aspect of the entry and raises the bitter of the peaty end of the mid-palate in higher relief. The putty notes of peat become clear in the nose among the nutty sweetness.
A wonderful richly flavored Bowmore. A sweeter more Highland style of Islay - yet clearly Islay to the core. It was 4 stars until I added a few drops of water. That just tipped it into 5. Succeeded they have. This is a big gutty richly flavored Bowmore that satisfies and then some.