Friday, August 22, 2008

The Auchentoshan Night That Never Was

The venue: Bon Accord. The host: Andrew Torrance of Morrison Bowmore, distiller of Auchentoshan and Bowmore. The red face: your humble chairman who told everyone it was an Auchentoshan tasting only to face half a dozen bottles of Bowmore. The result: A great night with superb whiskies, a real find in the Bon Accord and a promise of a return trip to sample the 'toshans.
Our tasting got off to a great start with a warm welcome from mine host Paul McDonagh, who laid on sandwiches and provided fast, friendly service. He seemed genuinely pleased to see club members and has asked us back for further tastings. He runs a monthly malts tasting with a meal and is more than happy if club members want to sign up. Contact him on
Back to the Bowmore, and after the initial confusion, club members settled into an evening of some really fine drams. First up was the beginning of the core range, the Bowmore 12. Its warm amber colour held the promise of what was to come - subtle lemon and honey with the distinctive Bowmore smokiness. On the palate we found dark chocolate and peat smoke.
Next up was the 15, a magnificent dram with a smoother outline from the 12, but still with that unmistakable smokey chocolate and raisin. Treacle toffee on the palate with cedar wood.
Third in line was, for this correspondent, a simply superb whisky - the 18 with its deep mahogany colour and a creamy smooth caramel nose.
The new kid on the block is the single cask,. At eight years old this is a fresh, invigorating dram with a fizz on the tongue. Perhaps it might have been better sampling this before the 18, which was still dominating when I got to the single cask. I'd certainly like to revisit it.
Last dram, of the schedule (a second bottle of 18 was generously donated by Andrew for the tables to enjoy at our leisure) was the fabled Black Bowmore of 1964
Sukinder Singh of the Whisky Exchange described it like this: Black Bowmore 1964 / 42 Year old / Sherry Cask / Single Islay Malt Scotch Whisky
"Well, here it is - just over twelve years after the previous release, a legend is reborn: Black Bowmore is back! Selected from the same batch of Oloroso casks as the previous bottlings, this is a must-have for wealthy Islayphiles."
And John Hansell, Malt Advocate described it in his tasting notes this way: "...this is one of the most fascinating whiskies I have ever tasted! It’s better than the original Black Bowmore trio.
...What I think impresses me most is how the whisky evolves. On the nose and palate, this is a thick, viscous, whisky, with notes of sticky toffee, earthy oak, fig cake, roasted nuts, fallen fruit, pancake batter, black cherry, ripe peach, dark chocolate covered espresso bean, polished leather, tobacco, a hint of wild game and lingering, leafy damp kiln smoke. Flavors continue on the palate long after swallowing. This is what we all hope for (and dream of) in an older whisky!
"I have now tasted this whisky twice: last night before dinner with Iain McCallum, Bowmore’s whisky “nose”, and this morning, in my hotel room before posting this. My opinion is the same. My rating for this whisky, which will be published in the next issue of Malt Advocate magazine, is: 97. (That’s the highest rating I have ever given a whisky.)
He was right to rave about it. I snaffled the (sadly empty) bottle and took it home. The following morning I nosed it deeply and was astonished the power an empty bottle can have.
At the end of the evening there was a further pleasant surprise. The Bowmore nosing glasses we'd been using were donated to the club by Andrew. A very generous gesture indeed, although Mrs Chairman wasn't too keen about the prospect of washing them all!