Bowmore 30 Years (Islay Scottish Single Malt Whisky: 30 years: 43% ABV)

Visual: Honeyed gold.

Viscosity: Very slow puckering and thick clinging spirit.

Nose: Smoke and fudge, with very slight olives in brine. Marmalade. Hint of beef broth underneath.  Water initially makes lighter, then allows pineapple, mandarin orange and confectionary to come out

Body: Very smooth with a ginger like sparkle to it. Dry oak, custard sweetness with that marmalade touch again. Water makes much sweeter, and yet adds a bit of beef and peat to roam. Sweet pineapple and mandarin orange then round it out.

Finish: Booming oak with slight brine. Slight bitter chocolate.  The flavour is very dry.  Water makes more broth like and adds much sweeter chocolate. Slight sherried raisins and mandarin orange.

Conclusion: You never know what to expect with a new Bowmore, there is such a range to the spirit that each expression is new joy.

This then needs some examination. Very smooth, even without the water, and in that waterless form it has a slight sea and smoke touch that calls to the Islay home, yet with none of the harshness. This, if anything could be considered the Bowmore signature, but there is so much more here. Very much allowing rounded oak to have its influence and a ginger sparkle to replace the fire.  Adding water then reveals the most distinctive part of its character, a very fresh and sweet fruit to the body which seems this expressions stylistic take on the spirit.

This takes the expectations of a light fruity whisky and matches them against that restrained Islay character to significant success.  Very mellow for an Islay, even considering that Bowmore is usually a restrained example of the region, but the flavour gives its spice enough.

Very much feels like they have taken the experience in developing the different expression and mixed in choice elements. The chocolate sweetness of Bowmore 15 Darkest, Salt and smoke from the 12 ,and slight brine from the 18 year.

A complex whisky of worthy consideration. Considering the price, you will want to get a lot of consideration out of your measure.

Background: The hundredth whisky tasting note. Looking for something special, I remembered this bad boy was available by the measure in a pub over in Bristol. A day trip was then required. The 30 year Bowmore is one I have been told is normally only available in Travel Retail, making for a very special find.  I am a big fan of Bowmore, and enjoy Ian Banks description of it. To paraphrase, he says that the different expressions of Bowmore cover such a wide range that if you cannot find a Bowmore you like, then you should question if whisky is the thing for you. I can’t help but agree.