Whisky Odyssey
Old-fashioned with a twist of the modern 

The Whisky Odyssey Fèis Ìle 2024 Special
Bowmore Day with a few 1990s drams

Bowmore is the oldest distillery on Islay and probably one of the most famous. Located in the little village of the same name, it has made some legendary whisky, especially expressions from the 1960s have the capability to make grown men cry. I have been lucky enough to taste a lot of them, simply by becoming a whisky enthusiast in time enough for them to still be around for affordable prices (if even only per glass). But having said that, I grew up more with Bowmore from 1990s vintages and beyond. One visit to the distillery in 2014 will forever be remembered because I filled my own bottles from cask 1572, filled with delicious peaty whisky matured in the darkest colour creating First Fill Oloroso Butt. Today, we taste Bowmore whisky from that very same calibre, from what now can be considered neoclassical vintages in the 1990s.

Bowmore 1995, bottled at 57,8 % for Malts of Scotland

Makeup: A bottling in the series “Clubs”, this one for Lindores Whisky Society. This Bowmore fully matured in a PX-cask, producing 225 bottles when it was bottled in October 2010. Cask # 112.

General impressions: This is taking me back to the Lindores Whisky Fest of that year. What a festival that was, in the Belgian coastal city of Oostende, where slapping each other around with legendary drams was just a pastime business. The scents coming from the glass are almost watery fresh, with abundant peat and red fruits from the PX-cask. Dried plum and a certain leafiness makes it complete. Time for a sip. Wow, yeah, you need a sweet tooth for this. Also, there is a strong flowery character on the taste buds here, not at all what I remember from it. The alcohol is rather hot, but that makes for a nice kick on the finish. 

With just a drop of water the aroma becomes even more fruity, lots of strawberry and cream, as if we attend a tennis match at Wimbledon. The mouthfeel has calmed down a bit with that water, but it also goes at the cost of some charm.

Conclusion: Still a decent single cask Bowmore, but somehow it lost some of its sparkle, or I did, over the years. Decent stuff. We consider this a fitting kick-off to this Bowmore Day!

Score: 88 points

Bowmore 1996, 26 years old, bottled at 48,5 % abv

Makeup: Distilled on 18 June 1996 and matured for 26 years until it was Hand-Filled at the distillery on 30 November 2022. The whisky matured in a bourbon cask with the number 2114. Only 198 bottles where filled of this distillery exclusive.

General impressions: A fruit bomb Bowmore, making you go back to 1960s vintages. There is also a hint of cat pee. As a cat owner I know what I talk off. I first tasted this whisky blind, and this scent gave away immediately that I was drinking Bowmore. Drinking it now with full knowledge I pick up more peat, but a very fruity peat scent, which is an amazing smell. Think pineapple, peaches, white grapes and dark yellow Chardonnay. I totally adore the same fruitiness on the tongue. It is really an classic aged Bowmore from beginning to end.

Conclusion: The only thing missing is maybe a lack of punch, just some sheer muscle, which might explain why this ended up as a special distillery only bottling. It is just perfect and nicely soft.

Score: 91 points

Bowmore 1997, 21 years old, bottled at 51,7 % abv

Makeup: Distilled in the year 1997, bottled in 2019. This bottling in the Distillery Manager’s Selection was created from oloroso sherry hogsheads from casks # 653-658 and # 660-665 making for 3000 bottles. It was a distillery exclusive bottling.

General impressions: The darkest of our samples today, even darker than the 1995 PX expression. Very complex smells, mostly on dark wood, furniture polish, American old-timer car leather. You need some patience before a hint of fermenting red fruit emerges. Very subtle but it's there.

The taste is that of alcoholic cough syrup on first sip. Really full on liquorice and sweetened wood sap. Sugary almost. 

The finish moves to Latin American deep dark chocolate, with a fruity tone coming from a pretty decent length of maturation. Wonderful sweet and silky mouthfeel. Only on the finish you could detect a hint of a flowery note, making a connection to Bowmore's past. But in this case it makes for legendary drinking.

Conclusion: Majestic modern and decently middle-aged Bowmore. Underlining once more that expressions made from a good couple of casks makes for a good and balanced drinking experience.

Score: 93 points
Disclaimer: all samples taken from samples shares with friends. With kind regards.

Share this on your social media! - and check mine while you're at it :)