It’s been over five years (!) since I last reviewed an independently bottled Bowmore on Words of Whisky. They’re becoming scarce occurrences, and if a cask is released, it’s usually for much more than I’m willing to pay. Today’s Bowmore 2001 21 Years XOP was bottled by Douglas Laing for The Whisky Exchange. Expensive also, but sold out nonetheless.
From what I know, Bowmore just isn’t available to independent bottlers anymore. Owners Beam Suntory are keeping all stock for themselves, even buying back casks where they can. Whatever still makes it onto the market as an independent release, was acquired long ago by said bottler, or is a former private cask that was put up for sale.
I’m not surprised established bottlers like Douglas Laing still have stock, but they’ll have a difficult time replenishing the Bowmore they bottle today. Trying a sherry-matured beauty like this is a rarity these days, and I feel very fortunate for the opportunity.
Bowmore 2001 21 Years XOP (51.6%, Douglas Laing for The Whisky Exchange, C#16464)
Nose: There are not many distilleries with such a recognisable style. Tropical fruits such as guava, mango and apricots are accompanied by notes of burlap, dried seaweed, iodine and tobacco leaves. Such a treat. Taste: Nice saline quality followed by fruity peat, raspberry jam, blackcurrants and pink grapefruit, but also a hint of ashes, dark chocolate and charcoal. Then some sage, a whiff of thyme, and finally a tinge of leather. Oh, and wonderful tropical fruits also – pushed little to the background but always present. Finish: Long with a pinch of salt, bright fruits, red berries and peat smoke.
Annoyingly good. Such a shame the indies don't have access to Bowmore anymore. It is one of the best (if not the best) distillates in Scotland, and it'd be nice if Beam Suntory would share the wealth a bit more.