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Hi, this is one of our (almost) daily tastings. Santé!
 
 
 
 

July 30, 2013


Whiskyfun

ML

The Whiskyfun Anniversary Tastings
Five decades of Bowmore
(2001, 1990, 1989, 1972, 1968)

I’m very proud, I could build a line-up that goes from the most recent to the oldest vintages while keeping ascending strengths! That’s not been easy but what shan’t we do for the cause! As far as the distillery’s concerned, and excepting a certain decade and maybe a few slightly unlikely fiddlings with heavy oak/wine, I’m simply a sucker for the whiskies. What’s more, the indies often bring out pure and more ‘crystalline’ versions and that’s why 80 % of our little session today will be ‘indie-driven’!

Bowmore 11 yo 2001/2012 (46.9%, Sansibar, 263 bottles)

Bowmore 11 yo 2001/2012 (46.9%, Sansibar, 263 bottles) Five stars The Whisky Agency and affiliated brands have already issued many superb young Bowmores. This one may be another fine example, although the low strength is intriguing… Colour: straw. Nose: high smoky impact! I haven’t tried many ‘OOs’ from Bowmore’s yet but it seems that they turned the smoke button toward eleven. Big smoke, big tar, hints of bicycle inner tube (which isn’t straight rubber, eh!), fumes and then seaweed and apple skins. I don’t get any fruits, not even lemon, but this is spectacularly smoky and I like that. Mouth: perfect, just perfect. It’s narrow whisky, it’s not complex, it’s even simple, but it’s perfect. Smoked oysters and grapefruits, that’s all but we don’t need more. Finish: long, same. Saltier aftertaste. Comments: a blade! Only more age could beat this, but not sure the purity wouldn’t be lost a bit. SGP:557 - 90 points.

Bowmore 21 yo 1990/2012 (50.4%, Douglas Laing for Helmsdale Tokyo, Christmas Edition, barrel, 244 bottles)

Bowmore 21 yo 1990/2012 (50.4%, Douglas Laing for Helmsdale Tokyo, Christmas Edition, barrel, 244 bottles) Five stars I’ve eaten my fingers trying not to taste this baby before, but I wanted to have it in this little flight. Colour: white wine. straw. Nose: oh this is nice, we have plenty of fresh walnuts, seaweed and apple skins (just like in the 2001) and then coal smoke, smoked tea, hints of mangos, pink grapefruits and then a little cut grass. Perfect. With water: even more perfect, all the fruits have come to the front. We won’t list the all but mangos and passion fruits are obvious. Wasn’t this a 1966? Wrong papers? Wrong stencilling? Also fresh hazelnuts after a few minutes. Mouth (neat): h-u-r-r-a-y! Ideal balance between citrus fruits and smoke and coastal stuff. Immense zesty Bowmore, very smartly selected by our Japanese friends. It doesn’t need water but procedures procedures… With water: a few wee violety touches come out but other than that, it remains quite perfect. Finish: long and briny. A little grenadine, perhaps? Comments: merry Christmas! One of the very best, if not the best recent middle-aged Bowmores I had the privilege to try, but it does not need water. To hell with water! SGP:656 - 92 points.

Bowmore 21 yo 1989/2011 (54.4%, Silver Seal)

Bowmore 21 yo 1989/2011 (54.4%, Silver Seal) Five stars The 1980s could be hit or miss (right, usually miss), that’s why I’ve chosen one that was distilled in the very end of the decade ;-). Colour: white wine. Nose: hurray again, that stuff isn’t there (you know what, don’t you)! Instead, we have a general profile which is very close to that of the 1990 – no wonder -, it’s maybe just a notch more tarry/rubbery and a little less fruity. With water: this is where the 1990 and this 1989 diverge, this one remains quite dry and grassy. A feeling of agave/mescal (since we’re slowly becoming experts in agave – not!) Mouth (neat): very good. It’s not as perfectly balanced and ‘immediate’ as the 1990, maybe because there are a few tiny-wee dirtier notes, but it’s great Bowmore and I do not get the faintest hints of geranium, lavender sweets, Parma violets or Cadum soap. There. With water: brinier. Anchovies and kippers. Finish: long, salty, very maritime. Beautiful lemony aftertaste. Comments: and yet another superb Bowmore. A 1989 not from the 1980s, are you following me? SGP:567 - 90 points.
UPDATE: some boxes were mistakenly labelled as '54.4%' but it's well a 46.

Bowmore 23 yo 1972/1995 (54.7%, The Whisky Connoisseur, Cask Master Selection No.2, cask #909)

Bowmore 23 yo 1972/1995 (54.7%, The Whisky Connoisseur, Cask Master Selection No.2, cask #909) Four stars Remember the fabulous Largiemeanochs 1967 and 1972? Those were bottled by or for the same folks, so we have very deep expectations here and now, even if there’s much less sherry involved here according to the colour… Colour: white wine. Nose: yet again, we’re on the same kinds of notes. Smoke, ashes, apple peelings, walnuts, tar, bicycle inner tube, seaweed, grass… Little fruits, just like in the 1989. And yet we’re so closer to the extravagant 1960s as far as vintages are concerned… With water: rather a disappointment. Some butter, grass, paper and asparagus come out, this baby doesn’t swim too well. Having said that, the eucalyptus is nice. Mouth (neat): high impact! Extreme lemon and salt, it’s really some kind of blend of freshly squeezed lemon juice, pickle juice and cold lapsang souchong. Which gives me an idea, hehehe… No signs of bottle ageing, this is as vivid as if it was bottled right this morning. With water: careful with water! Sometimes water imparts cardboardy tones to peaters, and that’s what’s happening here (unless they changed Vittel’s composition?) Actually, you may bring them down to around 45% but lower than may not work. Wait, isn’t the industry’s standard 30%? Or 35%? Finish (at full strength): very long and very lemony. Tarry/rubbery aftertaste. Comments: I don’t know, I may have lost the fight against this untamable baby. It may need/deserve a good one hour or more. SGP:456 - 85 points.

Bowmore 1968/1977 (59.7%, OB, Feschio & Frassa, sherry cask, cask #222)

Bowmore 1968/1977 (59.7%, OB, Feschio & Frassa, sherry cask, cask #222) Five stars Not much to say, except that this shouldn’t be too bad. Colour: gold. Nose: a shame that it’s so strong, it’s all a little blocked just now. What’s funny is to notice that there’s a lot happening behind the high alcohol while not being able to detect much of it. It’s a bit like listening to a string quartet with earplugs, if you see what I mean. So, with water: becomes more medicinal, ala old Laphroaig. Bandages and seawater, wet clothes, old cellar, raw wool, hay... Great but a little unusual. Some putty too, tar, chocolate… The jury’s still out. Mouth (neat): no, this makes you want to swear. It’s immense, it’s out of this world, it’s absolutely stunning and it just leaves you speechless. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. With water: Beethoven (conducted by Frank Zappa). Finish: as long as a Fidel speech. Amazing combination of all things from the sea with all smokes (yeah, including that one) and all citrus fruits. Even salted kumquats. Comments: my only regret is that this is no surprise. These late 1960s Bowmores for various Italian condottieri have all been utterly stunning. Mamma mia! SGP:467 - 96 points.

(With thanks to Hideo, Max and Olivier)

More tasting notes Check the index of all Bowmore I've tasted so far

 

 

 
   

 

 

 

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