Sunday, 7 October 2012

Whisky Discovery #167

Bowmore 18 Year Old (43% abv, OB Bottled 2012 70cl)
Islay Single Malt Whisky
Circa £73.00 70cl

This was the first whisky I have tasted from the Bowmore Distillery, of both distillery bottlings and independent labels, which I find hard to believe! Especially as Bowmore is the first recorded distillery on Islay and one of the oldest in the whole of Scotland, being founded over two centuries ago in 1779 by local merchant David Simson.

Islay malts are renowned for their peaty smokiness and Bowmore is no exception. However, in contrast to heavily-peated Islays, Bowmore’s unique location on the shores of Loch Indaal in the middle of Islay makes for a perfectly-balanced whisky with medium levels of peaty smokiness.

Despite having a population of just 3,200, Islay is home to no fewer than eight whisky distilleries: Ardbeg, Bruichladdich, Bunnahabhain, Caol Ila, Kilchoman, Lagavulin, Laphroaig, and of course, Bowmore. Both the catalyst whisky that started me off on this journey and my first whisky purchase were both Islay malts, and although I haven't been there yet, I am hoping to make my pilgrimage next summer.

We first tasted the 18 Year Old during a great day out at the Midlands Whisky Festival and was one of the three drams tasted in between two fabulous masterclasses. However it must have made an impression on me as I scribbled some legible notes down which included 'Impressed my first ever Bowmore!' along with my notes for the nose, taste and finish. 

I was really fortunate to taste this again recently during a meeting with Morrison Bowmore Distillers UK Regional Sales Executive, Phil Nickson, who brought along four splendid drams along for me to taste. I've also added a bottle of this 18 Year Old to my shelf too.

So What Did We Think?

The 18 Year Old, replaced the earlier 17 Year Old and was launched in January of 2007 and bottle notes goes on to say:

"Everything about Bowmore 18 Years Old is exceptional, from the rich peat and finest ingredients used in its production right through to its final, unique resting place. Cosseted away in the finest, hand-selected oak casks and allowed to mature at its own sedate pace, this is one of the most remarkable and perfectly balanced malts of its kind; a true rarity to be sought after and then savoured"

The colour of maple syrup or as described on the bottle 'mellow mahogany' which I believe it has been 'homogenised' as the dreaded 'mit farbstoff' is written on the box under the bar code. Surely the addition of caramel should be unnecessary for an 18 year old whisky?

My original tasting notes read; Creamy caramel toffee, dried fruits and peaty Islay smoke on the nose, however this is one to ponder over at a leisurely 'Islay-time' pace, as it won't be rushed and takes a little time to open up and reveal its true quality. Now that I've had additional time to fully saviour this whisky I can add a great deal more; It's fresh with some bright citrus notes too, The sherry influence comes through as stewed fruits. The below sea level maturation must give it the salty maritime notes, but there is also a damp wood, mustiness. With a little longer in the glass the chocolate notes develop, slowly building alongside the very soft coal smoke.

On the palate it came across as a little spirit like at first but with time develops with soft fruit sweetness; grapes, plums, along with a rich dark chocolate and light peat smoke. This has a long and wonderfully balanced finish with a burnt-floral character, dark marmalade, and a peat y coal smoke.

The meeting with Phil Nickson was at a local hotel, and I finished off my evening by sipping a large dram of this 18 Year Old. I drained my glass when I saw my wife pull up outside the hotel entrance, and made my way out to the car. Upon getting into the car both wife and youngest daughter told me I smelt of vanilla! Still with my empty glass in hand the vanilla notes were drifting into the car, and nosing this empty glass also gave me rich dark chocolate which accompanied me for my journey home.

A fabulous introduction to the Bowmore Distillery and as they say on the bottle; 'The stocks of Bowmore 18 Years Old may be limited but there’s no end to its enjoyment.'

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