Bowmore 1982. Hello sweetie!

Bowmore 1982

Good people at Bowmore very kindly invited me to Islay a couple of weeks back and, as those of you who took time to watch the video well know, I had a rather smashing time. One of the things they were keen to communicate to me (and you!) while I was there was the imminent launch of the second expression in their vintage series – Bowmore 1982. To bang the message across with sufficient umpf cunning Ileachs took me to the Number 1 Vaults at Bowmore Distillery for my first taste of the product. Parts of the warehouse are slightly below the sea level and one of the outer walls is quite literally sea-fronting. Maturation doesn’t get any more maritime unless you throw the barrels into the North Atlantic. The place is magnificently damp, the air smells heavy, salty and sweet. The ceiling is very low, you can easily touch the beams. The odd flickering light bulb makes it moody as hell. The new Bowmore 1982 spent 29 long years in this very place – I was told. You’re only 26 – someone whispered with a smile.

To put even more weight behind the dram I was accompanied by the serious, knowledgeable and very experienced Distillery Manager – Eddie MacAffer – who, having worked at Bowmore for 40 years, is nothing short of the best possible companion for such occasion.

I remember thinking at some point – what if I don’t like it? What do I say then? One lung-full from a snifter and my mind was put to rest. The 1982 is no less than the best Bowmore I’ve ever tried. And not because of the little whisky geek’s wet dream the Ileachs created for me that day but, simply, truly and honestly, because it’s f***ing good.

Bowmore 1982
Islay
47.3% ABV
501 bottles at £300
Available in June

Nose: Green Haribos (wow, my favourites!), ripe watermelon and toasted almonds at first. Opens up beautifully with a drop of water. Pineapple and pear aromas come to the fore, subtle but very noticeable smokiness appears… smoked dried plums rather than the usual pet reek however. Stunning.

Palate: Pineapple and coconut sweetness. Almonds again. Big banana and a bit of wood smoke. Sticky mouthfeel, full body, big presence.

Finish: Tropical theme continues. Banana… papaya? Bon-bons! Char.

Overall: What. A. Dram. Speaks of freshness and intensity while being very round and mature. The strength allows to add water and doing so makes it absolutely explode. It’s amazing how a great ex-bourbon barrel can turn a rough and peaty Islay new make into a tropical goddess while allowing it to retain some of its qualities. I’m a huge fan and while at £300 I won’t be buying a bottle any time soon, I will certainly keep an eye out for a dram in whisky bars around Edinburgh.

Lucas

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