The Black Bowmore, so often trotted out as the whisky that symbolises the “illuminati” aspect in whisky appreciation, is somewhat of an enigma. The fact is that there has been a decent outturn over the years and you are bound to come across an opened bottle at a reputable whisky bar if you search for it patiently; and yes, that longing does unfairly add to the expectation, as human nature would dictate… but then again, a great whisky is a great whisky.
This particular release was distilled on 5 November 1964, matured in five Oloroso sherry casks and finally bottled in 1997 after 42 long years as part of The Trilogy release and the 4th edition of the Black Bowmore.
Lush raisins, along with well polished mahogany and a dignified note of malted barley forms the backbone of the nose. There is a balsamic acidity that goes with syrup laced walnuts, slow-cooked ginger simmering away in brown sugar and cinnamon dust. The thickness though is soothed by a hint of savoury note that is simply mouthwatering. Pepper seasoned oak with a fine char note are present yet they are not overpowering at all despite the casks having years to exert their dominance, displaying such finesse instead with a soft touch of brine on the backend. The smoked barley note grows and grows in time with the presence of ripe fruit peels and a distant grassy note.
Sweet fragrant oranges, naturally dried ripe mangos and papayas served in a velvety body. Thick toffee sweetness merges with the dark oak tannins to make it known that this is a whisky that has been well matured. What’s unexpected is that the spices still managed to retain the strength after all these years, and still they gel seamlessly into the fluidity of things. Thin peaty note being held in place by the extravagant fruitiness with the oak acting as a supplement to accentuate the lavishness. Honey roasted nuts and raisins dusted with cinnamon sugar, every drop is to salivate for indeed as notes of vintage leather, earthy coffee ground and roasted tobacco flow through. The taste of an elegant smoke lives long after the last drop.
It’s a dram to remember and one to savour in memory. Lofty expectation but it surely has delivered in my honest opinion.