Bowmore, Bw1 (Speciality Drinks)

August ended with a peaty whisky (this Ledaig) and September began with another peaty whisky (this Laphroaig). Let’s stay on Islay this week and visit a few other distilleries, so to speak.

First up is this Bowmore from the Whisky Exchange’s Elements of Islay series. Indeed, it’s the very first Bowmore in that series. I’m not sure what number it’s up to now but I’ve previously reviewed the Bw5. As per Whiskybase, this was put together from refill sherry casks from 1994, but as neither piece of information is noted on either the bottle’s label or The Whisky Exchange’s original product listing it’s hard to verify them. I can tell you for sure that it was bottled in 2012, which is when I purchased a bottle for roughly $75 at the then quite brutal, pre-Brexit exchange rate. Since the Elements of Islay bottles are 500 ml that works out to about $112 for a 750 ml equivalent of likely 17-18 yo Bowmore from sherry casks. At the current exchange rate it would have been quite a bit lower. By comparison, the Bw8, said to be 16 years old, is currently available from the Whisky Exchange for £117 ex. vat for a 500 ml. That would be £175 for a 750 ml equivalent or roughly $242 at the current exchange rate. I’m no mathematician but it would appear the price has more than doubled in 9 years. This is why I no longer buy very much whisky. Anyway, let’s see what this is like.

Bowmore, Bw1 (52.9%; Speciality Drinks; from my own bottle)

Nose: A very classic Bowmore mix of florals, tropical fruit (passionfruit in the lead), coastal notes (salt and shells) and mineral peat. Just lovely. Quite consistent with time—maybe a little sweeter. Yes, some sweet mango joins the party as it sits. With a few drops of water the acid expands at first but then the custardy sweetness from the palate shows up along with some berries.

Palate: Comes in ashy and salty. Very nice texture and very approachable at full strength. As I swallow the fruit and some pepper begin to build. On the second sip the fruit and pepper pop out earlier. As on the nose this is remarkably consistent with time—a little custardy sweetness is the main development. Okay, let’s add water. More acid here too with water and everything gets tied together perfectly: the fruit, the coastal notes, the smoke. The texture deepens as well.

Finish: Long. The fruit and pepper crest and then slowly fade out as the coastal notes from the nose expand. It’s the ashy smoke that leaves the lasting impression, however. Richer and longer with water.

Comments: Ah, I really love this style of Bowmore. I think if I was sentenced to drink only one modern profile of whisky for the rest of my life it would be this one. Alas, I’m almost completely out of my holdings in 1990s Bowmore.

Rating: 90 points.



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