It’s afternoon on Islay on the first day of Feis Ile and we’ve just finished the Bowmore tour. Sitting at the Bowmore bar our tour guide tells us we can try some more things if we like. My eyes instantly focus on the Bowmore 23 year old port matured sitting on the back counter. “Could we try that one?”, I say completely expecting to have my cheeky request denied. “Sure”, the bar lady says, “but just a wee bit because it’s usually £25 a dram”. Nice! That’s how AliceInWhiskyland and I got our hands on this premium spirit.
What’s so special about this whisky? Well it’s an old Islay whisky fully matured in port casks and an official bottling to boot! These days, Islay whiskies older than 20 years are somewhat hard to come by, whiskies fully matured in port casks are pretty rare and to be fully matured for 23 years is nearly unheard of. I think it’s safe to say that Islay official bottling with all these factors is super rare. So I am guessing that’s the reasoning behind the overwhelming price tag.
I was certainly excited about this expression for all those reasons (except for the price) and I am still looking forward to a Madeira Cask aged Bowmore if/when they ever release one. Or a sherry/port/madeira vatted expression like I suggested to Bowmore on Facebook for the Mizunara competition:
“Bowmore Pirate’s Cask – Whisky from Port, Madeira, and Sherry casks representing the important trade routes during the 16th century (Portugal and Spain) that were often crawling with pirates looking to plunder ships filled with riches. These trading ships would bring fortified wine with them as it was more resistant to spoilage. Often these wines were Port or Sherry but also Madeira as the Island of Madeira was an important port of call where sailors could stock up on supplies before their long voyage.
Thus it is feasible that a rogue Scottish ship could have acquired these casks by dubious means and then upon returning home filled them up with spirit. Bowmore Pirate’s Cask.
Also all those casks taste great.”
Pirate’s Cask all the way!! Hint hint Bowmore ;). Here’s hoping that they’ll give me some credit if they do make this or at least send me some samples :p.
Alright, enough of the chit chat, let’s taste this!
Age: 23 Years Old
Cask: Port cask, full maturation
Stewed prunes, dried figs, yorkshire pudding, dried orange peel, touch of cinnamon, beef bourguignon, bit of star anise, dried flowers. Smoke from smoking pork ribs with tangy bbq sauce. Savoury and sweet with rich concentrated flavours.
Rich stewed prunes, mandarin orange syrup, bitter herbal peat, lavender, fruit loops, rainbow sherbet, cigar smoke and tobacco.
Tart with tannins and earthy like a dark red wine. Very strong european oak. The tart bitter old oak lasts with a hint of rainbow sherbet and prunes. A wisp of dry smoke follows through.
This dram may very well define complex. The nose is packed with concentrated flavours like dried fruits, red wine, and meat. The palate is a burst of a variety of sweetness. The finish is long and austere with old oak dominating. And while the peat is not overbearing it makes it way through every twist and turn. It’s ever present and watchful like the cheshire cat. It makes me think an epic journey in liquid form or that 3 course meal gum in Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. It certainly is a luxurious feeling whisky that demands focus. It’s a pity the price tag is so high because more people should be able to try this.
Rich red fruit and my grandmothers potpourri. Newly varnished oak furniture. Hint of cinnamon spice.
Sweet rich notes, mollasses on toast, moving to a dry bitter wood, chewing on a popsicle stick.
Spices to finish, fresh ginger and cinnamon sticks.
Really nice dram with a unique blend of flavours playing homage to the spirit and the cask.
For more tasting notes/reviews:
Image at top from here: