Tuesday, June 14, 2011

New releases > Bowmore 1982 Vintage

The Bowmore distillery is located on the famous whisky island of Islay, which lies off the west coast of Scotland. Islay is well known for producing the smoky, peaty style of whisky. Bowmore was founded in 1779 by John Simpson, making it the oldest of the eight distilleries currently operating on Islay. The distillery is located on the shores of inland sea loch Loch Indaal and the name of Bowmore translates as 'sea rock' from Gaelic. The distillery in currently owned by Morrison Bowmore, a subsidiary of the Japanese company Suntory, who also own two other Scottish distilleries at Auchentoshan and Glen Garioch. Bowmore has an annual production capacity of two million litres and is one of the biggest selling single malt whisky brands in the smoky, peaty style.

This new 1982 Vintage has been bottled at 47.3% ABV and will sell for approximately £300 each from specialist whisky retailers. It follows on from 1981 Vintage, which was released in 2010. There are only 501 bottles that have been taken from specially selected ex-bourbon casks and these casks have been maturing for 29 years in Bowmore's fabled Vault No.1 - this warehouse has an outer wall exposed to the sea, but is below sea level and this creates a unique cool, dark and damp climate for the whisky to mature. Another interest fact is that by this age over half of the contents of the cask has already evaporated as ‘angel’s share’, so this make the whisky even more special!

Our tasting notes
The colour of the 1982 Vintage is a light golden yellow and the nose is complex, expressive and fragrant. It is full of surprisingly fresh aromatic notes which combine to create a very pleasant but slightly unusual nose. There is a vanilla and honey-like sweetness to begin with, but these are quickly followed by distinct citrus (think of lemon zest and orange peel), hints of ashy smoke and damp soil, plus a delicate floral note which is reminiscent of something like violets and honeysuckle. This floral aroma gains strength with time in the glass and is joined by a hint of liquorice after five minutes or so. On the palate, this is sweet, fresh and tangy - all pleasantly surprisingly qualities in a whisky of this age. It explodes in your mouth with an initial super-sweetness (think of icing sugar and honey), which is complimented by rich floral notes (definitely violets now), robust oak (imagine vanilla, wood spice and coconut) and plenty of citrus character (that lemon zest again, plus a dash of orange oil). This is all backed up some distant ashy smoke and then a dry woodiness. The palate is very complex and the combination is fantastic, yet unorthodox. The dry woodiness carries on, and increases, in to the finish. The floral violets and the ashy smoke linger the longest.

What's the verdict?
This is a stunning whisky that is amazingly fresh and vibrant for something of 29 years of age. It shows a great complexity on the nose and palate, and has some highly unusual aroma and flavour profiles (especially the sweet floral violet notes). These are complimented by subtle, delicate notes and this gives the whisky a touch of class. This 1982 Vintage is unique and elegant and is a whisky to savour and sip over a long period of time. Truly fantastic stuff.

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