...where distraction is the main attraction.

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Bowmore 18 year old, Feis Ile 2020

(Bowmore cluster homepage)

Monday's glorious Feis Ile Bowmore may be this cluster's Whisky to Beat. Like that one, this Bowmore lived in sherry casks for some time, then spent an extra year in bottles when the 2020 festival was cancelled. Its outturn was four times the size of the 2012's thanks to Feis Ile's swelling attendance.

I'm just assuming I'll never attend Feis Ile. That's not due to the crowd of international taters nor the public drunkenness. Rather my 2012 Whisky FOMO developed into Whisky TOMO ("T" = "Thrill") before 2020. Now I get to try things years or decades late!

Anyway, here's some first fill sherry cask Bowmore. Let's see if it can compete with the 2012 release.

Distillery: Bowmore
Owner: Beam Suntory
Region: Islay
Age: at least 18 years
Bottled: 2020
Sold: 2021
Maturation: first-fill Oloroso sherry casks
Outturn: 3000 bottles
Bottled for: Feis Ile 2020
Alcohol by Volume: 51.2%
(from a bottle split)


A very different whisky than Monday's 15yo. Peat doesn't take the lead in the nose, instead it starts with anise, butter and Luxardo cherry syrup. Then comes a mineral-like peat, which then takes 20+ minutes to get earthier. Elmer's glue and dates fill in the gaps. Diluting it to 46%abv, makes the nose peatier and more herbal. Chocolate and mint join the dates.

The palate is darker, smokier and pepperier than the nose. Some veg and grass, burnt and unburnt in the midground. Milk chocolate and salt. Fortified wine in the background. Smoke and sweetness are better balanced once the whisky is reduced to 46%abv. It also picks up limes, hay and fennel seed.

Lots of pepper and ash in the finish, with smaller notes of salt and dried berries around the edges. At 46%abv, the finish matches the palate.


I wasn't shocked to discover that the casks in the 2020 bottling were much more active than those in the 2012. So it goes. Dilution helps this whisky out, putting things in balance, perhaps merging the blend better. There's a chance this would have fared better had it not been paired with Monday's whisky, but perspective is part of the cluster package.

Availability - Secondary market
Pricing - £300-£500
Rating - 86 (with dilution)