Bowmore 15 Year Old ‘Darkest’

Winter is very much on it’s way here in Scotland: the evenings are darker, there’s frost on the ground and your breath hangs in the air in the morning. As we near the end of October we inevitably come face to face with that strangest of dates, Hallowe’en. A time when all the evil things of the world are said to be abroad. Whisky distilleries often have long histories and as such, lend themselves well to legend and it’s safe to say, not all of these old tales are happy ones…

There’s debate over the origins of Bowmore distillery with some claiming that it was founded as far back as 1779. What we know for sure is that owner John Simpson applied for a license to distill in 1816 and the distillery was acquired by Glasgow Blending firm Wm. Jas. Mutter in 1837. It was under their ownership that the distillery began to gain a reputation. There’s even a record of Windsor Castle specifically requesting a cask of Bowmore for their own cellar. Shortly prior to this Royal request, Bowmore village and the distillery itself was apparently the setting for some very eerie goings on indeed…

The people of early 19th century Scotland were a superstitious lot and in troubled times, hushed talk of a malevolent influence was commonplace. The people of Bowmore were no different and the round church here was constructed in order that there be no corners in which an evil spirit could hide.

One cold winter’s night in 1837 a strange figure was seen loitering in the back of the church during a service and was duly identified as none other than the devil himself! At first frozen with fear, the hardy folk of Bowmore soon pulled themselves together and as one, chased the Beast from the church, pursuing him through the village until he disappeared within the walls of the distillery.

A search was organised and the distillery gone through, room by room, but to no avail. The Devil had escaped. But how? All the doors and windows were locked and the building surrounded on all sides but one, and that led to the icy waters of Loch Indaal.

It was then that one of the villagers noticed the outline of a small steamship, sailing away from the pier, laden with freshly filled casks ready to be taken to Glasgow and sold. Was it possible that Old Nick had escaped inside a cask? Weirdly, the little steamship never made it to the mainland and it’s fate remains unknown to this day. It is said, however, that on cold winter nights, down by the harbour, the sounds of a horn and of the black water lapping against the side of a ship can be heard, somewhere, out in the darkness…

Now, who am I to speak of the truth behind such stories, whether it be a folk tale passed down from generation to generation, or just the work of a clever marketeer, the one thing I know is that after such macabre tales, a dram is needed in order to steady the nerves.

The Bowmore 15 Year Old is known as ‘Darkest’ and is finished in Sherry Casks.

The ScoresAbout the Scoring…

Smell: 18.5 / 20. Subtle, Floral Peat Smoke, Caramel, Lemon and Lime, Honey and notes of Sherry and Chocolate. An enticing nose that draws you in every time.

Taste: 18 / 20. Beautiful though perhaps less complex than the nose. Arrives in a burst of flavour with notes of Honey and Caramel, Peat Smoke and some rich Sherry at the finish.

Value for Money: 8.5 / 10. Usually comes in around £55 but it really is worth every penny.

Overall: 45 / 50. Bags of flavour, complexity and character and probably, for me, the best of the core Bowmore range. Great stuff.

For more on Bowmore Distillery…

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