1997 Bowmore 20 Year Old "Old Particular" K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Scotch Whisky (750ml) SKU #1298481

$149.99

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Tasting Notes

There are two things that are consistent about Bowmore: the whisky is almost always awe-inspiring and rare editions will most often cost you a pretty penny. The stalwart of Islay is the spiritual home of smoky whisky, known equally for its grace under a peat fire. The Bowmore 25, one of the distillery's most magical expressions, routinely hovers between the $400 -$500 price point on the open market, but for this holiday season we set out to find a more affordable version for our customers who want something special, but not quite that expensive. This cask strength 55.7% 20 year old single barrel edition, while lacking any sherry influence, still manages to offer an incredible amount of sweetness from the refill oak hogshead, coupling with the clean flavors of malted barley and vanilla. The richness overtakes the palate initially, which is rare in an Islay whisky with this much smoke, dominating the flavor profile right off the bat. The peat and campfire notes don't begin until almost halfway through the process, combining sea salt and maritime elements with caramel and ash on the finish. There's plenty of Islay influence here, but it's beautifully balanced by the whisky's inherent maltiness. In a nutshell, it's textbook Bowmore with maturity and power for a fantastic price. It tastes exactly the way the distillery itself smells when you enter it, haunting the senses with equal parts malt and smoke. Our cask is a chance at true single malt royalty for a reasonable entry fee.

Staff Reviews

  • Jeffrey Jones
    By: Jeffrey Jones
    11/3/2017
    K&L Staff Member
    What I like about the Bowmore offerings is that they are balanced and nuanced. This single cask is no exception. It begins with nice smoke and sea aromas that are not heavy or over-powering. In the mouth this Bowmore is concentrated and complex, with rich and round flavors and hints of smoke coming through. There is a nice long finish. I tasted this with a splash of water.
  • David Driscoll
    By: David Driscoll
    11/3/2017
    K&L Staff Member
    I've tasted old Bowmore whiskies with heavy peat, heavy sherry, heavy smoke, and heavy funk, but I've never tasted one with this much sweet malt and vanilla. That's not to say this edition goes easy on the smoke, however, because there's definitely plenty of phenolic goodness to light the way home on the finish. This 20 year cask is maritime whisky at its finest. It reminds me of walking the streets in Bowmore near the distillery for the first time years ago, grabbing a plate of fresh oysters at the Harbour Inn across the street, then ducking into Duffie's for a quick dram. In a sense, it's a nostalgic whisky. It reminds me of what got me into whisky in the first place, a sense of wonder and complexity at how a golden liquid like this could taste so damn good. If you're in search of that feeling, that sense of excitement that may have been lacking from your single malt consumption as of late, I invite you to find that feeling again in this bottle.
  • Andrew Whiteley
    By: Andrew Whiteley
    11/2/2017
    K&L Staff Member
    Getting single casks from major distilleries like Bowmore just makes me so happy. It's a unique way to look at the components of a particular distillery and dive into what makes them so special. This 20 year old Bowmore is no exception. The nose is exquisite. It's loaded with sea spray, sweet fruits, and extinguished campfire. I feel like I can reach out and touch the wet malt on the floor just as the dry smoky air starts to fill the room. It's clean and pure, powerful whisky. The barley song is loud and clear. All off the pieces are there to be examined, yet harmoniously balanced into a whole single experience. This whisky perfectly shows why single malt are so compelling. They are a fascinating way to watch the whole movie, frame by frame, as they age.
  • Gary Westby
    By: Gary Westby
    11/2/2017
    K&L Staff Member
    This fantastic refill hogshead of Bowmore has all the complexity that one would expect from a 20 year old Islay, balanced by fresh sea air. This is not a heavy dram, but rather an expansive one, and has the rare peacock's tail finish that I prize in the finest of drinks. It seems to expand after each sip, with the flavor coming on stronger after each sip. I like this best diluted down to about 40%, so I'll get almost a liter of pleasure out of my bottle!
  • Alex Schroeder
    By: Alex Schroeder
    11/2/2017
    K&L Staff Member
    I’m a huge fan of the Bowmore whiskeys, mostly because they display their Islay characteristics with subtlety and grace. The peat is always a soft undertone to the malty complexity. This single cask from Old Particular is faithful to that mission. Flavors of toasted cereals, orange citrus oil, vanilla and briny smoke are robust and sweet on the palate, with incredible integration. Normally sensitive to higher alcohol levels, at 55.7% abv this was very enjoyable neat for me. If you enjoy these Old Particular single cask offerings, this is definitely a winner.

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