I finally get round to sampling the third and final small batch release in the sell-out Devil’s Cask series.
What Bowmore Say:
You’ll know the story of how the devil was chased all the way from Bowmore’s Round Church into the gates of Bowmore Distillery, only to escape – so it’s said – in a whisky cask bound for the mainland. What you’ll be less familiar with is the devilishly inspired cask selection for this latest release.
Matured in the finest first fill sherry casks, Oloroso and Pedrox Ximenez. Bowmore’s third, and final, release in the sought after Devil’s Casks series is our most intensely satisfying yet. Marrying spirits matured in both dry Oloroso sherry casks and – for the first time – sweet Pedro Ximenez sherry casks, which bring an incredible intensity and remarkable richness.
What I say:
It’s fair to say this whisky is not without controversy, not only is it NAS (non age statement), where the two previous releases in this series are 10 year olds, it has had a fairly large hike in price, which has certainly raised some eyebrows in the whisky community.
Admittedly I do understand the reasons for the rise in price, Bowmore wanted to try and keep people that were only buying the previous releases to sell them on at auction away, the casks used are far more expensive and of course, being the last in the series, they do want to capitalise on that.
With that all in mind I am really looking forward to giving this a try! The Devil’s Casks III Double the Devil is available in limited quantities throughout key markets bottled at 56.7% ABV at a cost of £190.00 from the Whisky Exchange here (@WhiskyExchange).
You can tell this is a high strength whisky, as the alcohol prickles your nose, this soon passes however, and waves upon wave of dark fruits start to appear. Rich plums, with juicy raisins and sultanas are first to appear, quickly followed by sticky dates, a touch of blood orange and some more exotic fruit in the form of mango, papaya and coconut husks, and a dash of fresh limes.
Given some time in the glass there is a toffee sweetness, vanilla ice cream and good quality milk chocolate notes, before this becomes too sweet aniseed makes itself known and brings a balanced spiciness. Keep nosing and you will be rewarded with a gentle floral note in the form of cherry blossoms in full bloom before the peat kicks in. It’s not the hard hitting peat that you may have expected, it’s ashy and smoky with an undeniable coastal quality of sea spray, mineral rich seaweed, rock salt and damp sand which immediately carry you off to Bowmore on a wonderfully sunny day.
First up is a gentle chili heat, warming but not overpowering, and then the fruit from the nose starts to make an appearance, the raisins, sultana’s and dates make this particularly juicy, with ripe plum, nutmeg, cloves, blood oranges, cinnamon, redcurrants and juicy brambles all adding into the mix. Then a wonderful malt quality comes through, when combined with the spices is akin to a Soreen malt loaf. There is a touch of coffee beans combining with liquorice, and oranges from the nose.
The smoke appears almost simultaneously, and at this point you can detect a touch of peat, running alongside the coastal, sweet, oily smoke. This puffs wonderfully around the palate, whilst the spicy fruitiness tingles on the tongue. The toffee notes are still there, and it’s almost as creamy as it is fruity. There is a slight nod to the oak influence, tannins dry the palate slightly, however it’s subtle and they make for a wonderful addition.
This dram takes its time. The dark fruits combining with the spices dance a never ending waltz on your tongue. The sweet toffee notes and creamy vanilla combing with a subtle gentle floral quality and a slightly oaky note are wonderfully drying, and the smoke keeps on puffing away.
This is a beautiful, strong, balanced whisky. It’s fruity, it’s smoky, there’s salt, there sweetness and cream with a finish that just keeps going on and on.
The spices are perfect, they complement the sweet juicy fruits and work in perfect harmony with the robust smoky notes. The oak is gentle, only making itself heard when it needs too.
This a fantastic way for the Devil’s Cask series to bow out, and actually age statement or not, it really doesn’t’ matter as this dram more than speaks for itself.
The price may well be too much and therefore price out some of the people who had bought both I and II, but if you can afford it this really is a fantastic whisky.
It’s complex, it’s easy drinking and it leaves you wanting more. One to try even if you can’t afford to buy a bottle.
Kirsty Clarke (@KirstyClarke29)