Bowmore 18

Bowmore 18
The blog turns 2 today
. My first review was of the entry-level Bowmore Legend and I marked the first anniversary last year with a review of the Bowmore 12. As I don’t have any of the 15 yo Darkest at hand, this year I have the Bowmore 18. This is a malt I haven’t had in many years now, and one that seems to get lost in the shuffle among whisky geeks (and the biggest of all whisky geeks really doesn’t like it). You don’t find people talking about this as much as about 18 yo whiskies from most other distilleries of similar stature and it rarely seems to be recommended to anyone looking for a (relatively) older bottle.

Serge’s redoubtable influence aside, some of this is, I’m sure, due to lingering phobia about older Bowmores on account of the problems of the 1980s distillate; some of it is probably due to the fact that it continues to be bottled at 43% with chill-filtration and a fake tan; and some of it is probably due to the fact that the distillery itself has been making most of its noise in recent years around limited editions like the Tempest, Laimrig and the Devil’s Casks. While these three limited editions are not NAS there does seem to be more of that now at Bowmore than ever before: the Small Batch has joined the Legend in the core range, and only one of the three new Islay beach-themed travel retail exclusives is not NAS (the White Sands 17). Well, Bowmore has been putting out a large range of whisky for some time now—there’s probably little reason to worry about middle-aged bottles disappearing. Continue reading

Bowmore 11, 2002 (Exclusive Malts for K&L)

Bowmore 11, 2002I received a sample of this Bowmore 11 in a swap with Michael K. of Diving for Pearls and after I received it I realized I already had an unopened bottle of it. I finally opened it a few months ago for one of our local group’s tastings and we finished the rest of the bottle at our August tasting—I occasionally repeat bottles that were contentious in some way or the other to see if our responses might change as the whisky does with time and air. I’d planned to review it when the bottle had just been opened but didn’t get around to it because I read Michael’s review and wanted to forget about it before tasting—and then I forgot about the whisky completely. This review is of the last pour from the bottle, but please keep in mind that the evening before this had been at the halfway point—so it’s not a hugely oxidized pour that’s been sitting at the very bottom of the bottle for a long time (and the bottle itself was only open for less than five months).

(I’d also assumed I’d photographed the bottle when I’d originally planned to review it but while posting this review realized I never had: hence the picture of the empty bottle.) Continue reading

Bowmore 10, Devil’s Casks, 1st Ed.

Bowmore, Devil's Casks
This was released late last year to a fair bit of acclaim. I believe it is fetching ludicrous prices on the secondary market in Europe. In a conscious attempt to stop chasing every new “noisy” release I passed on a bottle—ditto with this year’s Ardbeg Supernova. It was a bit of a tough decision though as Bowmore is one of my favourites and good sherried Bowmore, in particular, is one of life’s great, and quite unique, pleasures. (See my reviews of some I’ve liked a lot: here, here and here). Courtesy a sample swap, however, I get to taste it anyway—hopefully, this will not lead to too much regret.

There’s a second edition out, by the way. Despite the frenzy that erupted around the first release, Bowmore has kept the price of the second edition the same—to their great credit. There are stories though of unscrupulous retailers in Europe marking it up dramatically or in some cases even selling bottles at auction. I wonder what the story will be when it gets to the US. Continue reading