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 festivals, Hallowe’en; the time when all the evil things of the world are said to be abroad. Many whisky distilleries have long histories and as such, excel as the backdrop to various myths and legends. There are tales of mischief and merrymaking and of heroism and romance… but there are other tales, such that can curdle the blood and raise the hairs on the arm.
There’s debate over the origins of Bowmore distillery with claims that it was founded as early as 1779. Official records show that a license was granted to one John Simpson to distil on the premises in 1816, though that doesn’t rule out spirit being made prior to that date. The distillery was acquired by Glasgow Blending firm Wm. Jas. Mutter in 1837 and it was under their ownership that Bowmore began to gain a reputation. Somewhere around this time, Bowmore and it’s distillery were to become the setting of some very eerie goings on indeed…
The population 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 church there was constructed with curved walls in order that there be no corners in which evil spirits could lurk.
The winter of 1837 was particularly harsh and on severe nights the village would gather at the church to take comfort in prayer. One night, when conditions were especially bad, a strange shadowy figure was seen loitering at the back of the church. When he was cast in light his terrible visage identified him as none other than the devil himself! At first frozen with fear, the hardy folk of Bowmore soon steadied themselves and working together, harassed the Beast from their church, pursuing him down through the village until he disappeared within the walls of the distillery itself.
A search was organised and the distillery overturned, room by room… but 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, laden with freshly filled casks for the blenders in Glasgow. Weirdly, the steamship never reached the mainland and it’s 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, out there 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.