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Monday, December 6, 2021

Bowmore 15 year old, Feis Ile 2012

(Bowmore cluster homepage)

This week brings a pair of official Feis Ile limited bottlings to the Bowmore cluster. Neither has a listed vintage but complex maths tell me that they fit into this part of the cluster. Both are of a very dark due, and from sherry casks, so I'm pairing them off against each other. After these, the remainder of the cluster belongs to the indies.

First up, Feis Ile 2012. For that hardy party, Bowmore rolled out two bottlings. One was a 26 year old. I have a sample of the other:

Distillery: Bowmore
Owner: Beam Suntory
Region: Islay
Age: at least 15 years
Bottled: 2012
Maturation: sherry cask(s)
Outturn: 750 bottles
Bottled for: Feis Ile 2012
Alcohol by Volume: 55.4%
(from a bottle split)


I could tell you about the nose's nocino and fig notes, but they're far in the background. The real story here is how this Islay whisky smells like 1980s Brooklyn. Hot tar, bus exhaust, tennis balls, tire fires and some odd dumpster funk. I am strangely moved by this sense memory. It loses no power once reduced to 46%abv, but shifts styles a bit. More chalk and earth appear, as so dried stone fruits. Industrial smoke stacks loom largest.

The palate starts with big savory peat, charred beef and charred bell pepper skins. Cruciferous veg and chile oil in the middle, figs and limes in the back. It gets sweeter and figgier at 46%abv. The tart limes remain, as does a little bit chile oil. Plenty of kiln smoke surrounds it.

Peat, salt and savory fill the massive finish. Bits of lime zest, mint leaf and basil leaf add color. Once the whisky is dropped to 46%abv, the finish gets sweeter, simpler and friendlier.


This whisky stole my heart. Even leaving aside the personal connections, I adore this colossal style that could easily take on the southern Islay trio. Yeah there are sherry casks involved, but they cannot keep up with the powerful spirit. Please Bowmore, lie to me and tell me you have not been drowning casks like this in the 15yo "Darkest" for the past decade and a half.

Availability - Sold out
Pricing - ???
Rating - 91