Bowmore 15, 2001 (Signatory for The Whisky Exchange)

Since I am the kind of blogger who regularly posts reviews of whiskies that are currently available (see my recent reviews of the Ardbeg 10, the Lagavulin 12 CS, the Highland Park “Full Volume”, Old Weller Antique etc.), here is a review of a Bowmore 15 that is still available. It’s true that it’s only available from The Whisky Exchange in London, but how much do you want from me?! Does nothing satisfy you?!

This is an exclusive bottling for TWE by Signatory and it costs a pretty penny. 16,000 pretty pennies, to be exact—which may seem to you—as it does to me—like a lot of pennies for a 15 yo Bowmore from an ex-bourbon cask (not, in the abstract, such a rare commodity). However, the price is said to be justified by its fruity quality and so when the opportunity to split a bottle with a few people arose, I jumped at it. At this price, you want to try before you buy. Well, let’s try it now.  

Bowmore 15, 2001 (55.6%; Signatory for TWE; hogshead #20117; from a bottle split)

Nose: Clean and minerally at first with a bit of gasoline bubbling up and then the fruit (grapefruit, lime peel) along with a custardy sweetness. Just a little bit of glycerine in there too. With more time there’s a bit of vanilla. With a bit of water there’s a meaty quality (ham and brine) along with some uni (sea urchin) and kelp.

Palate: Leads with peppery peat and then there’s a burst of fruit—the stuff from the nose along with muskier notes of tart mango and pineapple. Thankfully, the glycerin from the nose doesn’t have much to say here. The peat is all of the peppery, mineral variety at first—smoke barely registers. The strength is barely noticeable. Gets fruitier as it goes (with more lime peel) and there’s more of the trademark Bowmore florals. The lime peel bitterness straddles a knife-edge, threatening to tip over into more astringent, glycerine territory and just stopping short. Let’s see if water resolves that. Well, yes, it knocks the threat of glycerin back and brings out more (white) pepper, but it also washes out the fruit.

Finish: Long. It’s here that the smoke emerges most fully—once the fruit fades out—and that as soot and ash to go along with the pepper. As on the palate with water.

Comments: Despite the flickers of glycerine, this is a very good ex-bourbon Bowmore. An excellent balance of peppery, mineral peat and fruit, both acidic and tropical. No fan of the distillery will be disappointed by this. The price, however, is high for what it is. I’m not sure how long this will be around but at the price it’s not a no-brainer for me; those with deeper wallets will likely disagree. Too bad: at a more reasonable price I’d have been all over it. I preferred the nose with water and the palate without.

Rating: 87 points.

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