Winter is very much on it’s way here in Scotland: the evenings have darkened, there’s frost on the ground and breath hangs in the air. As we draw towards the close of October we inevitably approach Hallowe’en, the night when all the evil things, of this world and the next, are said to be abroad. Many of Scotland’s distilleries have long, storied histories and can occasionally be the backdrop for all kinds of myths and legends. There are tales of mischief and merrymaking, of heroism and romance and sometimes, there are tales that can curdle the blood and cause the hair to stand up on the back of the neck.
There’s debate over the origins of Bowmore distillery with claims that it was founded as early as 1779. Official records however show that a license was granted to one John Simpson in 1816. The distillery was acquired by the blending firm ‘Wm. Jas. Mutter’ in 1837 and began to gain a fine reputation under their leadership. Not long after the takeover however, the distillery played a role in perhaps one of the strangest tales ever to be told…
The population of 19th century Scotland were a superstitious people and talk of a malevolent influence in troubled times was commonplace. The good folk of Bowmore were no different and the local church was constructed with curved walls in order that there be no corners in which evil spirits could lurk.
The winter of 1837 had been a particularly hard one. On the evenings of the worst weather, villagers would gather in the church to shelter and pray. During the worst storm of the year, a strange shadowy figure was seen loitering at the rear of the church and when the glow of torchlight illuminated his terrible visage he was exposed as none other than the very devil himself. At first frozen in terror, the hardy folk of Bowmore soon steadied themselves and began to work together to harass the Beast from their church, chasing him down the village until he disappeared behind the walls of the distillery.
A search was soon organised and the distillery overturned, room by room… though all to no avail. The demon had escaped. The people of Bowmore were dumbfounded. All doors and windows were locked and the building surrounded on all sides but one, leaving only the icy waters of Loch Indaal as an escape route.
It was then that one of the villagers noticed the outline of a small steamship sailing away from the pier, freshly laden with newly filled casks of spirit, it was bound for the blenders in Glasgow. Disturbingly, the steamship would never reach the mainland and it’s exact fate remains a mystery to this very day. It is said, however, that on cold winter nights, down by the harbour, the sounds of a horn can be heard and the black water seems to slap as though lapping against the side of a ship, floating out in the darkness…
The Bowmore 15 Year Old is known as ‘Darkest’ and is finished in Sherry Casks.
The Scores: About the Scoring…
Smell: 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: 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: Usually comes in around £55 but it really is worth every penny.
Overall: 44 / 50. Bags of flavour, complexity and character and probably, for me, the best of the core Bowmore range. Great stuff.