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Bowmore distillery stands on the shore of Lochindaal, directly across from Bruichladdich. The distillery was officially licensed in 1816 but whisky was being produced as early as 1779, making it the oldest distillery on the island and one of the oldest in all of Scotland.
Like so many distilleries, Bowmore has seen owners come and go through the years. Perhaps its most successful period came under the watchful eye of Stanley P. Morrison, a whisky broker from Glasgow who purchased the distillery in 1963. The Stanley P. Morrison company, later renamed ‘Morrison Bowmore‘, was acquired by Japanese shareholder Suntory in 1994, but bottlings from the 1960’s remain among the most collectable and sought-after on the secondary market, a testament to the perceived quality being produced at the time.
Recent modernisation of the distillery led to the ground-breaking development of a heat recovery system which collects and stores excess hot water and then transfers it to the MacTaggart Leisure Centre, a public swimming pool developed in 1991 inside an old, disused warehouse.
A high percentage of the Bowmore spirit is matured in sherry casks and this 10 year old ‘Dark and Intense’ travel retail exclusive features a marriage of ‘Spanish Oak Sherry Casks and Hogsheads‘. Bottled at 40% alcohol by volume, it retails at around £40 for a litre bottle.
Smell: Strong Sherry influence at first with Raisins & Sultanas, Orange and Dark Chocolate though this fades over time and Vanilla and Malt appear with an undercurrent of Perfumed Peat Smoke.
Taste: Sherry again, though less prominent than on the nose, Cinnamon, Orange, Salted Caramel, Subtle Smoke, Honey and Lemon.
Value for money: Travel retail expressions which carry an age statement are something of a rare beast these days, so it is a pleasant change to see Bowmore offer up a 10 year old at an affordable price.
Score: 39.5 / 50.
All things considered the 12 year old is a more balanced dram and offers the better purchase but if, like me, you know the Bowmore range fairly well, the 10 year old offers an affordable alternative. The sherry influence is strong at first but perhaps a little superficial as it quickly fades, leaving behind a dram which is enjoyable, but a long way short of the best that Bowmore can be.