2001 Hepburn’s Choice Bowmore 14 Years Review

2001 Hepburn's Choice Bowmore 14 Years Review

The 2001 Hepburn’s Choice Bowmore 14 Years is a K&L single barrel selection and came highly recommended by several people whose tastes I often align with. Combine that with the fact that I like almost every IB Bowmore I come across I decided to throw down my $83 ($95 after tax) and give it a try… holy crap I’m glad I did.

In K&L’s Words: 2001 Hepburn’s Choice Bowmore 14 Years

“While Bowmore seems to play second (or even fourth) fiddle to the Ardbeg, Lagavulin and Laphroaig selections on our shelf, we’ve always been enamored with Islay’s most historic distillery. We’ve never let popular whisky culture or changes in the portfolio diminish the fact that Bowmore tastes pretty damn good in a number of iterations. While tasting through single-cask selections this year, we found a 14-year-old sherry butt that was so dark and so soft we couldn’t pass it up. The best part about this particular expression was the texture; it mirrored the most popular Bowmore edition we sell: the 15-year-old “Darkest,” albeit at full proof and from one concentrated cask (and despite the fact this was supposedly a “refill” barrel).

The flavors are dark and rich, brooding and slow-moving over the palate. Dark chocolate accented by a beach bonfire oozes over the tongue, buoyed by toasted almonds and earthy peat. The nice part about sherry butts is that they hold more whisky! In the case of this 14-year-old Bowmore, we figured we were going to need every drop. We expect this to be one of the most popular K&L casks of the fall season; while it lasts, of course.”

It’s a cask strength, single re-fill sherry, 14-year-old Bowmore that drinks, and looks, like a first-fill sherry. There’s not much else to say except let’s get on with the 2001 Hepburn’s Choice Bowmore 14 Years review!

2001 Hepburn’s Choice Bowmore 14 Years Info

Region: Islay, Scotland

Distiller: Bowmore
Bottler: Hunter Laing
Mashbill: 100% Malted Barley
Cask: ex-Sherry
Age: NAS
ABV: 54.4%

Cask Strength | Non-Chill Filtered | Natural Color

Price: $83

2001 Hepburn’s Choice Bowmore 14 Years Review

EYE
Ruddy copper

NOSE
Smoke, dried strawberries, cocoa, dark fruit leather, shortcake and light bits of grape sweetness and citrus frosting. There’s an underlying essence of a grill right before it’s turned on; meaty, smoky, oily and a touch metallic.

PALATE
Oily peat, char, rich dark fruit, toffee, fruit cake, dark honey, brown sugar and light bits of pine nuts, saline, charred meat and iodine.

FINISH
Long peaty trail with detours of saline, dark fruit, angel food cake and oil.

BALANCE, BODY & FEEL
Great balance, round full body and a rich velvety feel.

OVERALL
Holy crap. This… THIS is what the Devil’s Casks follow-ups should have tasted like. This 2001 Hepburn’s Choice Bowmore 14 Years is simply stunning and I’m glad I picked some up. The aroma is like a smoked strawberry shortcake and the palate carries a similar character, but darker and heavier with a greater depth and complexity to it. Water doesn’t do much to the aroma but brings out some maple on the palate. Though it doesn’t really need it, it’s perfectly fine at cask strength.

K&L just sold out of the 2001 Hepburn’s Choice Bowmore 14 Years, but even though you can’t get this exact cask these are casks to watch for and see if other people, possibly even K&L, get some sister casks. If they do, and you like the peat-n-sweet combo, jump on them immediately. This is the kind of thing Bowmore should be putting out on their own. This… this I am a fan of.

SCORE: 90/100 (A-)

2001 Hepburn's Choice Bowmore 14 Years Review - Score Breakdown
  • Nose - 92
  • Palate - 90
  • Finish - 89
  • Balance, Body & Feel - 89

Summary

2001 Hepburn's Choice Bowmore 14 Years is really damn awesome, keep your eye out for similar casks.

2001 Hepburn's Choice Bowmore 14 Years Label

Josh Peters
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Josh Peters

I read about, think about, write about, and drink whisk(e)y. In short, it's my passion.
Josh Peters
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8 Responses to 2001 Hepburn’s Choice Bowmore 14 Years Review

    • Did you read the last paragraph? (emphasis added)

      “…even though you can’t get this exact cask these are casks to watch for and see if other people, possibly even K&L, get some sister casks. If they do, and you like the peat-n-sweet combo, jump on them immediately.”

  1. Hey Josh, Discovered your blogs recently and have been enjoying them greatly. There is a Bowmore mystery that I wonder if you and your readers can solve. I agree pretty closely with your takes on the various itierations you have tasted. But I’ve been into single malts for over 30 years and remember Bowmore as it used to be. The standard 12 year and 17 year OB”s were wonderful and had a very distinctive flavor..a tang to them that would always identify Bowmore. Then about 15 years ago it suddently went away. They took the 12 and 17 year versions out of production – probablyo ran out of stock –replaced them with an NAS and an 18 that tasted nothing like the Bowmore of yore. And I have been trying for years to find that old distinctive tang….I have tried many iterations and then recently found in England a 26 years IB that was very expensive but that had it. I think anything distilled up to and inclulding 1996 will likely have that distinctive tang. That’s been my experience: IB distilled in 1996 and earlier and you have the flavor that made Bowmore my favorite dram, with the old Highland Parks and SPringbanks a close second depending. Has anyone else noted this change in Bowmore?

      • Hi Josh, Last week found a bottle of the old 17 year Bowmore…it has to have been at least 15 years old…probably more because the cork disintegrated when I opened it and I am still getting cork bits out of the bottle. It was wonderful…and clearly had that older distinctive Bowmore tang to it that I recently found in a very expensive Murray McDonald bottling. I’ll see if I c an post a more accurate description of the taste when I sample some more. I can also send you a small Master of Malt sample bottle (2 ml. I think) if you’d like. Just send me an email. This distinctive flavor used to be the hallmark of Bowrmore…like you can still find in others. Glenmorangie, through its various incarnations, McCallan, Longrow, Laphroig, Lagavullin…to name a few, have their own distinctive flavors. Bowmore has pretty much lost it, though I did get a slight hint of it in the Exclusive Malts 15 year. Another great vatted malt kind of aloong Islay lines that I have tried recently is Blue Hanger, by Berry Bros and Rudd. Highly recommended for Islay lovers.

        • Cheers Hal. Thanks for sharing and thanks for the offer. Email is josh (at) josh s peters . com (spaced to keep bots from scraping it). It’s also up on the Contact tab. Thank you!

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