Mar 092012
 

Black Bowmorebarry's place pics 129

1964       42 y.o.

40.5% abv

827 bottles

Score:  97/100

 

Oh boy.  One of the worst whisky reviews I have ever encountered read like an orgasm.  There was simply nothing to it but some oohs and ahhhs and a half dozen scattered words referring to peat.  I can understand being rendered speechless by nearing perfection, but c’mon.  The sentiment…certainly.  In a published review?  Bah!  The Black Bowmore was one of the few times where I have had to sit back and simply be wow’d.

This is as near to a flawless whisky as I have ever encountered.  Not only so, but it is also the most spectacularly unique one as well.  This edition (yes…there were three others) was a marriage of 5 casks, matured in Oloroso sherry wood, matured for 42 years and bottled just before the breaking point.  (Anything less than 40% is no longer eligible to be bottled as Scotch whisky).

What sits in my glass would not be possible without a little magic.

There is a place in Bowmore referred to as Vault Number 1.  It sits below sea level, where the wash of the loch and the moods of the ocean play out against its hallowed walls.  It is a Mecca where whisky lovers dream of venturing, though only a favored few ever truly experience the reality of what exists down here.  This warehouse is indeed a place of magic.  A place where something inexplicable happens to the silent casks slumbering within.  These barrels take on flavor nuances not found elsewhere.

Enough waxing poetic.  This is whisky, after all.

Black Bowmore is probably the greatest whisky nose I have ever encountered.  It is deeper than deep and richer than rich.  With enough time and dedication I can’t imagine a fruit you couldn’t sniff out of this one.  As expected, there is a wellspring of sherried fruitcake notes (think figs and spice, burnt toffee and cocoa bean), but it is not in these notes that the whisky is defined; it is in the absolutely overwhelming array of exotic and tropical  fruits on display.  Peach and orange and grapefruit.  Pineapple and a hint of coconut.  Black cherry in syrup.  Hints of mildest anise and gingerbread…salt and smoke…oily leather.  Veins of oak throughout and a dark and earthy mystique.  Stunning.  Incomparable.

The palate is creamy and comfortable.  Layer upon layer of tropical fruits sit right up front.  First thoughts are of Five Alive.  Maybe grapefruit…mango…apricot.  As it develops, spiced apple and cigar tobacco (or walk-in humidor).  And as it fades…a very pleasant bitter fruitiness.  The finish is shimmeringly beautiful all the way through.  Can’t help but wish it would never end.  Kind of like watching Cinderella run away as the clock strikes midnight…and knowing that you are already in love with her.

To put it succinctly, this is quite simply the greatest whisky I have ever tasted.  And quite rightly…has earned the highest mark I have ever awarded.

 

– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Curt

 Posted by at 8:06 pm
Oct 302011
 

Bowmore, which is pronounced…………..Bowmore.  It doesn’t get much easier to pronounce than this one, which, even to this day, I’m still being corrected on pronouncing the rest of the Islay distilleries.  The distillery was built in 1779, which makes it the oldest working distillery on Islay, and given the 24/7 malting floors operating most of the year, I believe the hardest working distillery on Islay.  Also given the charming people that work there, it has to be in the running for the friendliest distillery on Islay.  The two Spirit and two Wash Stills are bright copper kettles which convert waste heat into heating for the public swimming pools (built in a former Bowmore warehouse) rumor has it that this was done to stop the distillery workers from swimming (or bathing) in the Washbacks.

Bow-more in English means ‘kinky-extra’ or contrarily translated means ‘extra-kinky’.  If your kinky leanings are towards extra or more than average flavor, then this whisky should be your perverse tipple of choice.  After all, Bowmore can offer it all, from sweet creamy vanilla bourbon, ripe tropical fruit cocktail, wild Islay sea sprayed peat and exquisite floral fragrances like raindrops on roses.  These are a few of my favorite things, and when I’m feeling sad I simply pour a dram of Bowmore and then I don’t feel so bad.

Both of these vatted ex-bourbon oak cask limited release whiskies have served a better than 28 year sentence in the dark cold sea salt mines of vault number one and only let out for good flavor.  Not the big fruit bombs of the sixties and seventies, but the hills are alive with the aroma of flowers, with fragrances that have drifted for a thousand years.  Don’t attempt to drink these malts if you suffer from hay fever or *rum disease (*similar to Lyme disease, but only affects rum drinkers).

 

Bowmore 1981 and 1982

Bowmore Limited Release Distilled 1981 – Bottled 2010 49.6 % ABV 402 Bottles

NOSE:  Ginger ale.  Vanilla.  Potpouri of different floral scents.  Farmy smoky notes.
TASTE:  Oranges and cherries.  Caramel and milk chocolate.
FINISH:  Medium to long.
ASSESSMENT:  Extreme to the max.  Sweet, floral, and no…not the FWP found in some nineties versions, but an enjoyable unmatched floral experience.  My personal favorite of the two releases.
Bowmore Limited Release Distilled 1982 – Bottled 2011 47.3 % ABV 501 Bottles

(Advance sample provided by Andrew Ferguson, KWM)

NOSE:  Spicy floral.  Light and citrus fruits.  Crisp apple strudel.  Vanilla with a small smoky bacon note.
TASTE:  Extreme floral.  Caramel.  Raspberries.  Almond chocolate.
FINISH:  Medium.  Beautiful creamy finish.
ASSESSMENT:  Not as floral, but in the same league of extraordinary bourbon casks as the 1981.

 

Because of the special floral nature of these two whiskies I was given to create a Haiku poem:

MURRAY RATES WHISKY

WHISKY OF THE YEAR BOWMORE

ORDER SHALL RETURN

 

As always, Maltmonster

 Posted by at 9:08 am
Jul 032011
 

ODE TO………………BLACK BOWMORE

 

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,

Over many a quaint and curious whiskies of forgotten lore,

While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,

As of someone gently rapping, rapping at my liquor cabinet door.

“‘Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my liquor cabinet door

Only this, the famous Black Bowmore.”

 

 

To honor the famous Black Bowmore we gathered together again, the infamous gang of four, to taste this thing of lore.

Some of us have tried the Black Bowmore, along with the White Bowmore and the Gold Bowmore, but never have any of us tried all three together in a vertical tasting.  We also had a chance, due to one generous sole in our infamous gang of four, to try some older, and equally as good, Bowmore.

So on a wet and dreary night in June we banded together to taste and ponder a few Bowmore and nothing more…

 

15 YEAR OLD  MARINER SCREENPRINT LABLE  43% ABV  BOTTLED
APPROXIMATELY 1994  2ND  RELEASE  OF THE 15 YEAR OLD

NOSE: Oranges and burnt toast.  Marzipan.  Fudge.

TASTE: Peat.  Little fruit.  Briny and creamy.

FINISH: Medium to long.

ASSESSMENT: Great expression of a younger Bowmore that was outstanding.  Only wish the younger Bowmore of today could be as good.

 

21 YEAR OLD 43 % ABV   PHASED OUT  FOR THE 25 YEAR OLD

NOSE: Big old fat juicy peach.  Strawberries and Cherries.  Honey.

TASTE: Peach & cream in harmony.  Buttery.  Little mint.

FINISH: Medium.  Wee bit a salt at the very end.

ASSESSMENT: Little peat or brine at this age.

 

25 YEAR OLD 43% ABV  BLUE MOONLIGHT OVER BOWMORE  & SEA
GULLS CERAMIC BOTTLE

NOSE: Light tropical fruit.  Coffee and dark chocolate.  Bit floral.

TASTE: Toffee.  Licorice.  Infused dark fruits.  Pomegranates.

FINISH: Medium to long.  Fades away nicely.

ASSESSMENT: Rich and complex drink.

 

30 YEAR OLD 43% ABV BLACK SEA DRAGON CERAMIC BOTTLE

NOSE: Tropical fruit, but less than the 25.  Oranges, cherries, melons and apples.  Oaky and maybe a bit of charcoal.

TASTE: Cherries and sherry cask imparted spice.  Marzipan.  Mint and dark chocolate.

FINISH: Medium to long.  Brine arrives at the end.

ASSESSMENT: What a great bottle and great expression of a fruity Bowmore.  I remember they had a hard time selling these for less than $200 in Calgary back in 2002, If I had only bought more.

 

34 YEAR OLD 1971 51% ABV  BOTTLE # 761 OF 960

NOSE: Earthy.  Coffee beans.  Tobacco and dark chocolate.

TASTE: Nutmeg.  Spicy sherry notes.

FINISH: Medium to long.

ASSESSMENT: Probably mixed one bad cask with a good one or two to hide it.

 

37 YEAR OLD  1968 43.3% ABV  BOTTLE # 683 OF 708

NOSE: Tropical fruit explosion!  Grapefruit & orange.  Minty sweet Bourbon.

TASTE: Again you get pleasantly assaulted by the tropical fruit.  Bananas.  Little spice and Briny.

FINISH: Long.  Absolutely no peat.  Fades nicely with a little salt at the end.

ASSESSMENT: Nose is in the Black Bowmore range.  Incredible whisky, was not prepared for how good this was.

 

42 YEAR OLD 1964 40.5% ABV  BOTTLE # 668 OF 827 BLACK BOWMORE
BOTTLED 2007,  4TH AND FINAL RELEASE , VATTED FROM ONLY OLOROSO CASKS

NOSE: Fruit bomb!  If you can think of the fruit, you can find it in this five alive fruit cocktail.  Milk chocolate.  Coffee bean.
Minty and little vanilla.

TASTE: Oranges & cherries.  Dark chocolate.  Licorice.

FINISH: Long and fades nicely with the memory of the nose.

ASSESSMENT: They state it was a vatting of Oloroso casks from 1964, but methinks that there is a possibility that maybe a bourbon cask was dumped into the sherry cask, as there is some sweet hints of vanilla.  The wow factor maybe in order here. What a nose.  This whisky could bring any rum child to instant conversion into a whisky man or woman.

 

43 YEAR OLD 1964 42.8% ABV  BOTTLE # 673 OF 732 WHITE BOWMORE, BOTTLED 2008 , VATTING OF SIX BOURBON CASKS

NOSE: Tropical fruits, but much more subtle.  Floral.  Winey notes.  Little oaky.

TASTE: Overwhelming amount of fruits.  Vanilla.  Oaky and dry.

FINISH: Long.  Very smooth and enjoyable.

ASSESSMENT: Past its prime.  Would have been better to bottle this a few years earlier.

 

44 YEAR OLD 1964 42.4% ABV BOTTLE # 156 OF 701 GOLD BOWMORE ,
BOTTLED 2009 , VATTING OF BOURBON AND ONE OLOROSO CASK

NOSE: Melons, cherries and oranges.  Vanilla.  Touch of smoke.

TASTE: Complex.  Nutmeg and sharp ginger.

FINISH: Medium to long.  Brine shows up at the very end.

ASSESSMENT: Rich full nose.  The most balanced of the three (Black, White and Gold) releases.

 

The number one rated whisky of the night was the Black Bowmore, the second (was also the first choice of some of the gang) was the 37 year old from 1968, followed by the Gold, then the White and 30 year old.

I know the Black Bowmore was meant to be drank, but I can’t help feeling sad, that once the cork is open you are obligated to finish the bottle within a reasonable period of time, and after this bottle is drained of its contents, the Black Bowmore shall be Nevermore …………….. (Good thing we have a spare bottle)

 

– Nothing More, Maltmonster

 Posted by at 3:57 pm