Thursday 4 August 2016

Tasted #306: Bowmore Bicentenary 1979

Steph and I recently returned from a few weeks in Sydney, where we had a great time relaxing, catching up with friends and family, and enjoying some reprieve from the worst of Hong Kong's humidity. The trip also gave me the opportunity to revisit a number of whiskies we still have stored in Sydney, and rather than do so alone, I decided to hold a little BBQ with a few close whisky mates (who just happen to represent the majority of the Aussie whisky blogging community too, including Hendy).

In addition to the whiskies I'd put out, everyone brought a bottle or two, including good mate @whiskysec from, who brought a half-size bottle of Johnnie Walker Black (sans label)

...only inside, there was no Johnnie Walker.

Now here's a rarity - @bowmoredistillery Bicentenary, bottled in 1979 from casks dating back to 1950! - Said by many (well respected whisky fans) to be one of the finest whiskies they've ever tried, it was an incredible privilege to be able to taste this - a privilege made possible by the very generous @whiskysec! - There's a 15yo version, but this is the NAS, which contains whiskies up to 29 years old, all from first fill sherry barrels. It was amazing to try a Bowmore that was distilled (in part) as early as 66 years ago, and was bottled 37 years ago. It certainly wasn't like today's Bowmores! - Tropical and medicinal at first, it evolved over time to introduce perfumed, floral notes with a strong earthy, mossy, and even diesel-like character. I think what blew us all away was how much it changed over an hour or so too. There were even hints of tennis balls after a while! - A whisky we won't soon forget. Notes up on the blog already! - #whisky #singlemalt #scotch #Bowmore #RareWhisky #OldWhisky #instawhisky #VintageWhisky #instadram #whiskygram #WhiskyHK #timeforwhisky #HKlifestyle #威士忌 #ウイスキー #위스키 #whiskylife #Islay #slainte #whiskyblogger #whiskylover #whiskygeek #whiskyporn #bowmorewhisky #IslayWhisky #Glencairn #SydneyWhiskyBloggers #bucketlistdram
A photo posted by Martin - (@timeforwhisky) on

Yep, he'd kindly brought along a Bowmore Bicentenary! Bottled in 1979, this was the NAS release (as opposed to the 15yo), and has been proclaimed by many whisky fans to be one of the best whiskies they've ever tasted. Comprised of casks dating back to as early as 1950, and bottled in 1979, it fetches a pretty penny these days, with Master of Malt selling it for ~£1,400 (when they had stock), TWE selling it for £2,250, and a bottle at the recent Hong Kong Dragon8 auction selling for $24,000HKD!

So not a daily dram then....but did it live up to the hype?

Bowmore "Bicentenary" 1979 (43% ABV, NAS, Islay, Scotland, £2,250)
Colour: Copper brown. 

Nose: Medicinal at first, with hints of rubber gloves (and later tennis balls). Slight tropical notes - especially passionfruit. Some perfume. With time, the perfume increased in intensity, before an earthiness took over, with hints of diesel(!)

Palate: Perfumed, floral, yet very mineraly, earthy, mossy. Slight notes of leather and a fair hint of cigar smoke. More diesel.

Finish: Medium length, with a hint of sherbert, then more damp earth to see things out.

Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 93/100. Just so different...and yet so good! A really fantastic dram, and one that you can sit on for over an hour, just to see how markedly different it becomes. A bucket list dram without a doubt.


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