Bowmore 1994 21 Years Old SMWS 3.255
Quite possible my favourite ever distillery visit was at Bowmore. Granted, I did book a more expensive and exhaustive tour than at most other distilleries. But still, it was an incredible afternoon that I’ll never forget.
I already thoroughly enjoyed Bowmore before my visit, but whenever I now have a whisky from theirs in my glass, it certainly takes me back to that experience. And that’s basically what whisky is all about: experiences. Having a connection with a distillery most definitely enhances the drinking experience.
Which bring me to the Bowmore at hand. This particular example is a respectable 21 years old, and distilled in the mid-90s, generally a very good period for the distillery. And ex-bourbon matured Bowmore as well, so none of that overly dirty sherry stuff (although that can be very tasty as well). I’m expecting a wonderful marriage between Islay and the tropics here. Let’s hope that’s what I get.
Bowmore 1994 21 Years Old (56,6%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, C#3.255)
Nose: Lots of brine, more so than I’m used to from mid-90s Bowmore. There’s a subtle hint of peat, followed by licorice, ginger and hot tar, but behind it all there’s definitely some of that trademark sweet/citric fruitiness so many people love, me included. Not as abundant as I’d like though.
Taste: Nice oily spirit, which isn’t always the case with Bowmore. Plenty of smoke and a good amount of peat, as well as some sal ammoniac. Proper spicy, with heaps of chili and ginger. Let’s add some water, maybe that’ll calm things down. Well, it does a bit. Sadly, it also transforms it into a much drier whisky.
Finish: Spicy, peaty and dry. Long.
While good, it does disappoint a bit, since it barely displays any of the tropical fruitiness that sets Bowmore apart from most other Islay distilleries.
Thijs is a spirits writer and accredited liquorist from The Netherlands. He runs the blog Words of Whisky and contributes to a number of Dutch and international publications.