Re: Bowmore Legend scores points!
I will confess that I'm quite the novice when it comes to Scotch, however, I know enough so far to have figured out that I'm rather fond of Islay single malts, but my story with Bowmore Legend is one of pretty intense disappointment.
Let me give you some perspective as far as my tastes and my general level of knowledge and experience:
I try to always have one bottle each of Laphroaig 10 and Laguvalin 16 in the house for somewhat special days (the Laphraoig 10 for say, 5:30 Friday after a long work week, and the Laguvalin 16 for say...my birthday, visits from friends who I don't see very often, a promotion at work, etc).
I also have found Ardbeg agreeable, though its smokiness and bite are a little harsher than Laphroaig. Still enjoyable, but for price and smoothness, Laphroaig is more my taste.
And for more "everyday" drinking, I usually keep something like Johnny Black, Dewar's 12, or a cheaper single malt like Glenfiddich. Usually, it's JW Black.
So one day I was in the store and saw a bottle of something I'd never tried that said it was an Islay Scotch, and it was priced comparably to a middle-shelf blend or a young/low-end Speyburn. I was intrigued and thought "How bad could it be?"
There have been bottles that were cheap and that I have been disappointed with, or grew away from as my taste refined a bit. Chivas 12 year old I found to be decent, but for around the same price or not much more, there's always Johnny Walker or Dewar's 12 year old. I used to think J&B was okay for cheap scotch, but now I'll only order it if there's absolutely nothing else for scotch (other than your Clan Macgregor and Cutty Sark varieties) and the only bourbon available is some equally nasty cheap stuff or Jack Daniels (which isn't disgusting, but it's not good, either).
Surely, no single malt scotch could give me an experience any worse than some $19.00 750ml generic blended scotch.
So I open the bottle and the first thing I notice is an unexpected element to the nose. Yes, there was "earthiness", a "coastal" aroma, and definitely peatiness. Maybe not as peaty as Laphroaig or Ardbeg, but it's in there. But there was something else sort of piggy-backing itself onto the "earthiness". I could best describe it as a cross between "swampy" and "tire fire". Almost reminiscent of rotten eggs, but in a way that's rather hard to articulate, it was missing the familiar sulphury acidic quality of the rotten egg odor. Yet it was equally unpleasant. It has an almost petroleum element to it.
In spite of all of this, I gave it a shot, and to my dismay, the same elements were present in the taste as in the aroma, and there was almost an oily quality to it on the palate. Not in the feel or the viscosity, but in the taste.
Not skunky like a Grolsch Beer. Not earthy like truffles or bitter like espresso. But some kind of unpleasant combination of skunk, bitter, and earthy. Not really that bitter, either. Just...skunky and earthy. And skunky doesn't really work, either. More like...sea monster-ish.
The picture that immediately came into my mind was of a drainage ditch full of garbage, dirty brown moss (which I realize peat moss looks like dirty brown moss) discarded shopping carts, automobile parts, various hazardous waste materials that aren't supposed to be dumped into drainage ditches, and various bottom-feeding freshwater aquatic creatures floating belly up.
I apologize for overdoing it with the description and the silly attempt at imagery. But I only do it so you understand that I think something else is going here other than that I haven't acquired a taste for the subtleties of a peaty, earthy scotch.
There's a lot of scotch I haven't tried, but I've had a decent variety, and I've never tasted anything like this. I still have this bottle after many, many months, and I've tried to dilute it with cola or soda, and the sea monster/oil spill taste is still there. I've even tried to dilute it by about four-to-one with another spirit (like Jim Beam, MacNaughton's Canadian, Evan Williams, or Jameson, because I don't feel gutsy enough to try it with better stuff and end up being wrong) and then mix it in coke. The nasty taste still comes through.
And this isn't just an aftertaste or a finish. It's there from the moment the odor hits your nostrils to a good minute or so after you've swallowed all the whisky and chased it with water or hot sauce or anything else will cover up or flush out this funky taste.
So, maybe this is something that some people think is special and sublime, but I've never tasted anything like it before in any other whisky, and I certainly didn't like it.
Has anyone else had a similar experience with Bowmore Legend or other Bowmore whiskys? Was this a fluke?