...where distraction is the main attraction.

Friday, December 17, 2021

Bowmore 21 year old 1997 Douglas Laing Private Stock

(Bowmore cluster homepage)

Douglas Laing's Private Stock range is from the "Laing family's personal Whisky collection" as per their website. I suppose that means the Private Stock casks are those that the Laings keep for themselves rather than selling their customers......except when they bottle the casks to sell to their customers. Some of the Private Stock releases appear to be partial casks, like today's Bowmore, and sometimes the outturn looks like a full cask. That the approach seems slightly scattered, also makes it feel more like these are legitimate personal picks. I'm happy to give one a try.

Distillery: Bowmore
Owner: Beam Suntory
Region: Islay
Bottler: Douglas Laing
Range: Private Stock
Age: 21 years (June 1997 - December 2018)
Maturation: refill hogshead
Outturn: 51 bottles
Alcohol by Volume: 48.8%
(from a bottle split)


A swirl of spent motor oil, piney peat and fresh rosemary fill the nose, with smaller notes of rye bread and citronella candles in the background. It becomes fruitier at 46%abv, with oranges and guavas merging with the smoke.

The palate arrives with precise balance. First: smoke and salt, with a hint of sweetness. Then: a squeeze of lemon and a bit of baked pineapple, and a whiff of farm in the background. Diluting it to 46%abv barely alters it, with just a little more citrus and herbal bitterness arising.

It finishes with the smoke, salt and citrus all in tune. The smoke drifts back forth between kiln and cigarettes. At 46%, the citrus and salt take the fore.


This style, possibly my favorite contemporary Islay approach, is what I've been waiting for. Every part of this whisky is in tune, nothing overwhelms. All peace, no violence. My notes on this are brief because I was in "Damn" mode during the whole tasting. If just a couple more of these Bowmores approach this level, then this will be my favorite cluster so far.

Availability - Sold out
Pricing - probably quite high
Rating - 90

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