Review: Bowmore’s three new Travel Retail exclusives (Black Rock, White Sands & Gold Reef)


Some of you may know by now that Bowmore has released three new Travel Retail exclusives. If you don’t know what Travel Retail is, then basically it means you can only buy it in airports / duty free… so unless you’re a frequent flyer (I’m not!) then you’re not going to find these on general sale.

However for one night only I’ve been lucky enough to get onto a Twitter Tasting to try out the range… my reviews below may help some of you if you’re going through airports, you never know! Bowmore have been kind enough to include some chocolate in with the tasting pack, that’s definitely a treat in my book.

So on to my thoughts on these whiskies…


gold_reefGold Reef – 43% ABV

This has no age statement.

“Predominately matured in 1st fill ex-Bourbon casks, it rewards with notes of smooth vanilla, citrus fruits and sea salt.”

Colour: Like the name, it’s gold150.
Nose: Somewhat fresher than I had imagined, the peat smoke is there as you’d expect, but it’s not overly in your face allowing a costal salt to come through along with a citrus lime and mango twang with a drop of honey.
Palate: Medium thick on the palate, with the lime / lemon citrus notes coming through a lot more… it’s got peat sweetness there, but the citrus tang is really keeping this from getting too sweet. There’s quite a fresh new oak note there from the casks, fresh pencil shavings.
Finish: Really fresh, citrus tropical tang notes dominating again, which are hugely enjoyable, along with a small drop of honey and Refreshers (fizzy sweets). As usual with peaty drams it’s a pretty long finish.
Water: Didn’t try!
Thoughts: Ok I have to say that I really liked this, I had no expectation, and of late I have been drinking heavily sherried Bowmores, so to find this being so light, nimble and citrusy on the palate is a nice welcome surprise, a late sunny spring day dram.

Available: Airports. £59.99 / 1L


white_sandsWhite Sands – 43% ABV

The only one out of the three to carry an age statement… 17 Years Old.

Matured in the finest ex-Bourbon casks, the rich treacle toffee and ripe exotic fruits are bound together by warm peat smoke.

Colour: Gold150
Nose: The description above is pretty bang on… not the fresh citrus of the last dram, but an older more mature, rich nose to this. Toffee and ripe exotic fruits hit the nail on the head.
Palate: On the palate this is immediately honeyed gold, delicious sweet and thick with a puff of smoke at the back, pretty fine stuff! It’s not fresh like the last one, but it’s one to sit with your feet up to that’s for sure.
Finish: The honey starts to move to the side allowing the more ripe citrusy fruit notes to come through. It sticks around for quite a while.
Water: A wee drop allows out the smoke a bit more and ramps up the ripe exotic fruits.
Thoughts: Once again, I had no expectations but it’s blown me out the water, what a wonderful drop of drammage!

Available: Airports. £79.99 / 70cl


blackrockBlack Rock – 40% ABV

This has no age statement.

“A delicious balance of peat smoke, treacle, toffee and orange that have been strongly influenced by the time spent maturing in Spanish sherry casks.”

Colour: Deeper gold, slight red hues.
Nose: A gorgeous welcoming mash of warming winter fruit stew with Birds custard, sat near a coal fire that’s gently puffing away.
Palate: Really the palate carries on directly from the nose, there’s a sweat gently peaty winter fruit hug in your mouth… A tiny bit of costal in the background, but at the front there’s just luscious sherry fruits playing nicely with the sweet, clean peat.
Finish: Sherried peat in a dram is often a style that sticks around for the longest, and this isn’t an exception, it’s sweet fruits stick around for ages.
Thoughts: Love the dram… however it is only 40%, a few more % would boost it even further, but on the on the other hand it would also boost the price, which at the moment appears to be excellent value!

Available: Airports. £49.99 / 1L

Overall thoughts: I’ll quickly get this out the way… no colouring and no chill-filtering please! Done. Pretty much impossible to chose a dram as a favourite tonight, all of them are Bowmore, and all of them are quite different for different moods and times of the day! However the Black Rock does seem to represent excellent value for money, so that’s probably the one I’d actually buy as I love a sherried peaty dram. Many of you will know I’m a big fan of Bowmore, and these are no exception – it’s a shame they won’t be easier to get hold of.

Many thanks to Bowmore for the samples.


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