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So much whisky, so little time | Singapore | Tasting Notes

Bowmore Jug 1955 vs Samaroli Bouquet 1966

End of the week and feeling like something absolutely first-rate? It’s a no-brainer then, back to Bowmore we go.

The way I do this blog seemed great at the beginning: I would introduce a distillery, have a bit of a write up and do the tasting notes, but as this blog grew, and the number of whiskies tried multiplied, naturally the best distilleries were oft repeated. And here I am again wondering if I should talk more about the distillery (Yet again!)  Or else jump straight into the whiskies?

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Well, maybe a different approach this time. Some interesting snippets (the veracity of which I do not speak for!) found in the entertaining Peat Smoke and Spirit, A Portrait of Islay and its Whiskies by Andrew Jefford:

  • The town of Bowmore was intentionally created when the Laird Daniel Campbell ‘the Younger’ evicted the village of Kilarrow, uncomfortably close to his estate at Bridgend, and deposited them at the site called Bowmore, giving the new town its now famous round church to appease the new townsfolk. The ex farmers needed jobs, and a distillery was found to be a suitable revenue generating asset for the Laird.
  • Bowmore claims its founding dates to 1779, though the original land grant given to David Simpson was for land ‘in Hill St and Shore St’ while the modern distillery sits abreast school street in the centre of town.
  • The water channel that fed the distillery was considered a marvel of engineering, being some 14km long with a decline of a mere 30 m and negotiated around challenging geographical features. The path of the channel was said to have been drawn up by a very patient Bowmore tailor using a length of waxed thread, a drop of water and astute powers of observation.
  • The stills during the time of Alfred Barnard’s visit in 1887 looked nothing like the stills today, in fact they hardly even looked like whisky pot stills. Today’s stills are rather on the small side and gracefully slender.
  • This one most already know: Bowmore remains one of the two Islay distilleries that still floor malt a (small) portion of their malt.

 

Bowmore Jug. 1955/1974. No abv. ‘Specially bottled for 12th September 1974’ Approx 350ml.

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That’s all the information there is. It was never sold, it was given out as door gifts to staff. Barely 200 were bottled 41 years ago and just how many survived the raucous evening and thirsty years, who can hazard a guess? All I know is that there are 2 in Singapore, and 1 pour in my glass.

Nose Nose: A multitude of flavours: Yes immediately fruity as Bowmore can be, but also moist mornings with dew dripping off leaves, touch of camphor and wet logs that’s started to rot but its a clean fresh woody dissolution – I almost see little white mushrooms. Then there’s damp salt like sails met with seaspray, there’s just a little granite-y minerals, all the while the fruit is very expressive but balanced against its other qualities and never loses control. Its beautiful. So easy to be pulled into this nose.

Taste Palate: Surprise, not fruits that explode first but a waxy chest rub and camphor, wet sand and stone and plant debris, lots of it, brasso and old furniture. This cannot be more than 50% but its got huge depth. No, the fruit is there, they’re just not shouting. Here they are towards the finish, Bowmore fruit. You know what it is.

Finish Finish: Long, mineralled, Fruity – henceforth I shall spell this kind of fruit with a capital. Also a slight rusty-ness.

Score100

The flavours here are Bowmore’s for sure, and look at the year, this was 1955! Multifacted, perfectly and elegantly weighted. Depth and warmth. Not a huge whisky but what stunning finesse. Timeless whisky.

 

Bowmore 1966/1984 Samaroli ‘Bouquet’ Full Strength 53%

Bowmore bouquet

A storied bottle of legendary provenance.

Nose Nose: Immense at first. Needs air and patience. Much thicker and more powerful than the jug, but that is to be expected. Yes the family resemblance is clear but this one is more focused, narrower, but huge in its margins. It is Fruity but less widely so, more clean white salt and something like peppered paraffin candles, plus a cutting acidity plus a massy diesel-medicinal-minerals-oily thing that sits in the middle of the nose. The scents are so compact and merged, it just spells complexity.

Taste Palate: Immense again, more boisterous with a great big powerful mash up of Fruit, pepper, citrus zest, wax, gum, petrol, salt, woody notes, vanilla pods, bitter herbs. Hard to keep track of this, its changes so quickly. Turning more cutting and more bitter. Absolutely fantastic.

Finish Finish: Long, long, long, always a bit of fruit juice, and a bit of lamp oil, so many little undescribable notes. Oh yes.. My grandmother kept her old hurricane lamps in the house.. in the 21st century.

Score Divine

One of the best whiskies I have ever tried. Narrower, sharper but much bigger much more powerful than the Jug, and the unspeakable complexity is turned up more than several notches. Fabulous. The downside? Even if you had the $15,000 or more it would cost to buy a bottle, noone’s willing to sell it to you.

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2 comments on “Bowmore Jug 1955 vs Samaroli Bouquet 1966

  1. EL
    March 12, 2016

    Good review. Thank god I still have one bouquet in my cellar.

    • Whiskyrific
      March 12, 2016

      Lucky lucky you, its virtually ‘unobtainium’ now..

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