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Monday, November 15, 2021

Bowmore 21 year old 1982 Prime Malt Selection (re-review)

(Bowmore cluster homepage)

As mentioned in the Bowmore cluster introduction, the group's first three whiskies don't quite fit in with the rest of the theme. Batting leadoff...

I first reviewed today's whisky eight(!) years ago. Looking at those notes, I can't help but feel like I was being exceedingly kind about a flawed whisky. This whisky was distilled during Bowmore's most problematic decade, a period about which a certain epithet has been often assigned. It's time to find out if soap or perfume (or both!) live in this bottle, or perhaps just whisky.

Owner: Beam Suntory
Region: Islay
Independent Bottler: Duncan Taylor
Range: Prime Malt Selection
Age: at least 21 years (1982 - ????)
Maturation: ???
Alcohol by Volume: 46%
(from a bottle split)


It has a bright, colorful nose, with citronella, cucumber, and fresh herbs like rosemary and thyme. One can also find pine sap and a peated white chocolate. And, yes, there is plenty of Dove soap to go around.

The palate is (per my written notes), "sweet, bitter, peaty, weird and vaguely fruity" at first. The peat gets sootier and the fruit becomes tarter with time. There are some hints of butterscotch in the background. But there's so much detergent in the mix, and it doesn't fade away after an hour. Though violets start to grow.

The finish matches the palate for the most part, with more focus on bitterness and tartness. It gets sweeter with time, and the soap note becomes slightly less intense.


I can take lavender and violets in my whisky. Maybe even a shpritz of gaudy perfume. But I do not enjoy soap in my mouth. I am not a bad boy. Today. And this whisky has soap. I avoided adding water because my more upbeat review from 2013 says this stuff gets "sudsy" when diluted. That is not a sign of a successfully-produced spirit.

Though the nose is not a "top 20" as it was back in 2013, and isn't even a Top 200, it is unique and very enjoyable. With its palate's bitterness leaning towards the herbal side, the whisky shows a nice lack of oak. Having a bunch of tannins collide with dish detergent would not have helped matters. Still, I don't need to try this a third time.

Availability - ???
Pricing - ???
Rating - 76 (neat only)

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