Bowmore 1995

The Hebridean island of Islay off Scotland’s west coast is home to the biggest concentration of distilleries per head of population than anywhere in the world. Bowmore marries the quintessential Islay character – which has the made the isle so famous – sweet smoke and sea-salt notes, with their distinct tropical fruits character. Maturation in sherry hogsheads, just like this one, contribute to the signature, rich & fruity Bowmore flavour. Approaching three decades of maturation, this whisky is in the same age range as bottlings from Bowmore that are among some of the most coveted whiskies ever released.

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Cask Details

DistilleryBowmore
RegionIslay
Age26 years
Distillation DateApril 6, 1995
Cask TypeSherry Hogshead
Peated?Moderate
Re-gauge ABV50.75%
Re-gauge Litre of Alcohol (RLA)68.3 litres
New Bulk Litres134.6 litres
Re-gauge DateSeptember 30, 2021
Bottles191
Cask Number820

The Wood

Ex-sherry casks and Bowmore’s spirit go hand in hand, the medium peated spirit pairs beautifully with the soft frutiness expected from this type of cask. Over the years this pairing has yielded some of the most sought after bottles of Scotch whisky in history, such as the Bowmore Black series.

““Ex-sherry casks imbue their own unique character into the spirit, these casks create more dramatic aromas and notes, giving a deep amber colour and flavours of dried fruits.”

— David Turner, Bowmore Master Distiller (2021)

The Spirit

Tropical fruit is at the heart of the spirit produced at Bowmore with lingering, integrated smoke reminiscent of beach bonfires fueled by damp driftwood. Bowmore still has an operational floor malting, one of only 3 distilleries on the Island to keep this tradition and the malted barley is smoked for 18 hours with peat, and 42 hours with warm air, to give it excellent balance.

This cask was filled a short time after Suntory bought Bowmore and during the initial takeover, the new owners slowed down the entire production to get the spirit just right. This period produced some of the most desirable spirit ever produced at Bowmore, and even to this day the distillery is trying to recreate the new-make produced during the 1990s.

Bowmore also reuses the excess energy used in the distillation process, the MacTaggart Leisure Centre is built within an old warehouse of Bowmore’s and the 25 metre swimming pool is heated entirely by the excess heat from the distillery; travelling from the distillery to the pool through underground pipes

The Masters

Jim McEwan began his career in whisky in 1963, as an apprentice cooper at Bowmore distillery and has over 50 years experience in the whisky industry. He was the distillery manager in the spring of 1995 when this cask was filled. This was the same year that McEwan was awarded distiller of the year at the International Wine and Spirits Competition. The vast database of knowledge of whisky production cannot be underestimated when talking about Jim McEwan – he dedicated 38 years of his life to the spirit of Bowmore and has been responsible for bottling some of the oldest whisky to come from Islay.

David Turner is another man who has dedicated most of his life to The Bowmore distillery, starting when he was 16 in June 1990. Last year he celebrated 30 years at the distillery, having taken the reins as master distiller in 2012.

“I think the location sets us apart. We’re on Islay, right in the middle of the Island. Islay is well-known for the peated whiskies. The north is very lightly peated, the south is very heavily peated, and we’re in between. We sit between on peating level, and geography. We call ourselves the perfectly balanced Islay whisky”

— David Turner, Bowmore Master Distiller (2021)

The Verdict

Bowmore is a distillery which has a familiarity to most people, it is recognisable and still boasts the title of the oldest distillery in the famous whisky producing region of Islay. Expressions of Bowmore beyond 20 years old are seldom seen; and the potential of this cask for future maturation is certainly apparent, with the re-gauge strength still over 50%. This is a superb example of aged Islay whisky in complete harmony with the wood – the distinctive Islay smoke becomes beautifully integrated having spent over a quarter of a century in oak.

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Auction Details

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