Bowmore Bicentenary is flat out one of the best whiskies I’ve ever encountered. Created from a mix of sherry casks that were filled in the 60s and bottled in 1979 to celebrate Bowmore’s 200th anniversary the Bowmore Bicentenary also earns the distinction of being the hands-down best OB bottle of Bowmore I’ve ever had, though to be fair its only real competition was the Bowmore Devil’s Casks 1.
I’ve had loads of delicious Bowmore over the years, but it almost never comes from an OB. Instead 99% of the amazing Bowmore I’ve had over the years has come from NDPs like Signatory, Sovereign or Cadenhead’s. The OBs on the other hand I struggle with and have a hard time finding much to like about them, but that’s all changed now that I’ve had the Bowmore Bicentenary… too bad it was bottled 36 years ago and costs over $2K a bottle these days.
Bowmore Bicentenary Info
Region: Islay, Scotland
Mashbill: 100% Malted barley
Price: $2,226.80 (TWE) / auction or private sale
Bowmore Bicentenary Review
Dense rich dark fruit, sherry sweetness, grapefruit, vermouth, iodine, sugary sweetness, a bit of musty old bottle effect, ash, malt and the merest touch of peat. The sugary sweetness isn’t like a mass produced candy type of sweetness, more like what you get from a high-end confectionary where the sweetness comes across silken and full.
Sherry glides across the palate followed by complex dried fruit, grapefruit juice, citrus peels, vermouth, dark sweetness (molasses like), mustiness and a light dusting of sulfur and ash. I could have used more of the sulfur in there to help add more earthiness for the complex sweetness and citrus to play against and fully round it out. Peat was nowhere to be found even after letting my 3rd glass sit for over an hour to open up.
Medium and rich with notes of grapefruit, dried fruit and a dark earthiness that was like wood, but wasn’t what I traditionally attribute to being “wood tones”.
BALANCE, BODY & FEEL
Perfectly harmonious, rich full body and a heavy syrupy feel.
Bowmore Bicentenary is unspeakably good whisky and it’s hard for me to fathom how whisky could taste any better, but I already know the answer to that question… a bit more peat. Without someone telling me that I was drinking Bowmore I wouldn’t have thought in a million years that what I had in my glass was Bowmore. It tasted like the most obscenely rich, dense and chewy sherried whisky you can imagine with only the merest hint of anything even resembling smoke.
I don’t know if the peat has simply dissipated over the last 36 years or if it come from a more gently peated run of distillate in the 60s. I do know that peat does dissipate a bit with time, but not quite this badly so I’m back to square 1 of not knowing why it was all but absent here. What I do know though is that if it had been there, accompanied by a longer finish, this would have been a perfect whisky.
I’m not saying that it needed to be heavily peated or have a never ending finish, just a bit more peat to add another dimension to this already stellar and complex whisky and a bit longer finish to extend that enjoyment. Regardless, even without added peat, and having a medium finish, the Bowmore Bicentenary still ranks as an A+ whisky. Mind-blowing stuff.
Bowmore Bicentenary Review - Score Breakdown
- Nose - 98
- Palate - 99
- Finish - 97
- Balance, Body & Feel - 98
Bowmore Bicentenary is one of the most stunning whiskies I’ve ever tasted and if I had $2,200 laying around I could throw at a bottle of whisky this would already be in my possession.