1964 42 y.o.
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