I don’t know if any Islay whisky can be referred to as quiet. True, many may hit you over the head with their peat and smoke – and deliver a good spanking of leather. Lagavulin, Laphroaig, Caol Ila, Ardbeg all quickly come to mind. Quiet, that takes a moment or two of reflection. Bowmore never the first distillery that whisky drinkers speak of when talking Islay – yet is a superstar with several of its expressions. I have five different expressions in my scotch cabinet; not too many distilleries from any region of Scotland hold that distinction. In my book, Whisky Tales: Tastings and Temptations, there are two that receive high praise, one is on my Top 10 List, the other should be!! In 2008 friends from the UK brought the Bowmore 16 Y.O. Limted Edition as a gift. I didn’t realize that it was going to be on the “hard-to-find” list and shared it at several tastings. Not too bright comes to mind as I look at myself in the hindsight mirror. The 16 Y.O., was distilled in 1989 and bottled at cask strength – a not too aggressive 51.8%. There is a recognition of smokiness but it doesn’t overpower. Quiet and elegant. Find it. buy it. The other is the 13 Y.O. Craftsmen’s Collection: Maltmen’s Selection. Another limited release and bottled at 56.4%. At a 2014 autumn small gathering of serious single malt enthusiasts it was not thought of as one to reach for early and often. Actually, no one had even tried it before. I purchased the bottle at the Bowmore distillery shop in 2009 so it was little known. The bottle was saved for last because the sherry notes were perhaps going to offer a counter point to the other heavy-hitters of the evening. When the group finally raised a glass. A supersized WOW circled the room. Oh ya. If you can find it….
Bowmore a quiet, masterful, Islay. I raise a glass.