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Whisk(e)y News - Featuring Our Newest "Old Particular" - Bowmore 20 - 11/07/2017 - Single Malt Scotch

I've tasted old Bowmore whiskies with heavy peat, heavy sherry, heavy smoke, and heavy funk, but I've never tasted one with this much sweet malt and vanilla. That's not to say this edition goes easy on the smoke, however, because there's definitely plenty of phenolic goodness to light the way home on the finish. This 20 year cask is maritime whisky at its finest. It reminds me of walking the streets in Bowmore near the distillery for the first time years ago, grabbing a plate of fresh oysters at the Harbour Inn across the street, then ducking into Duffie's for a quick dram. In a sense, it's a nostalgic whisky. It reminds me of what got me into whisky in the first place, a sense of wonder and complexity at how a golden liquid like this could taste so damn good. If you're in search of that feeling, that sense of excitement that may have been lacking from your single malt consumption as of late, I invite you to find that feeling again in this bottle.

Vintage Item Name Score Retail Link
1997 Bowmore 20 Year Old "Old Particular" K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Scotch Whisky (750ml) $149.99 View
Dalwhinnie Distiller's Edition Oloroso Cask Single Malt Whisky (750ml) $59.99 View
Lagavulin "2016 Edition" 12 Year Old Natural Cask Strength Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky (750ml) (Previously $130) $99.99 View

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1997 Bowmore 20 Year Old "Old Particular" K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Scotch Whisky (750ml) ($149.99)

There are two things that are consistent about Bowmore: the whisky is almost always awe-inspiring and rare editions will most often cost you a pretty penny. The stalwart of Islay is the spiritual home of smoky whisky, known equally for its grace under a peat fire. The Bowmore 25, one of the distillery's most magical expressions, routinely hovers between the $400 -$500 price point on the open market, but for this holiday season we set out to find a more affordable version for our customers who want something special, but not quite that expensive. This cask strength 55.7% 20 year old single barrel edition, while lacking any sherry influence, still manages to offer an incredible amount of sweetness from the refill oak hogshead, coupling with the clean flavors of malted barley and vanilla. The richness overtakes the palate initially, which is rare in an Islay whisky with this much smoke, dominating the flavor profile right off the bat. The peat and campfire notes don't begin until almost halfway through the process, combining sea salt and maritime elements with caramel and ash on the finish. There's plenty of Islay influence here, but it's beautifully balanced by the whisky's inherent maltiness. In a nutshell, it's textbook Bowmore with maturity and power for a fantastic price. It tastes exactly the way the distillery itself smells when you enter it, haunting the senses with equal parts malt and smoke. Our cask is a chance at true single malt royalty for a reasonable entry fee.

Staff ImageJeffrey Jones | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: November 03, 2017

What I like about the Bowmore offerings is that they are balanced and nuanced. This single cask is no exception. It begins with nice smoke and sea aromas that are not heavy or over-powering. In the mouth this Bowmore is concentrated and complex, with rich and round flavors and hints of smoke coming through. There is a nice long finish. I tasted this with a splash of water.

Staff ImageAndrew Whiteley | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: November 02, 2017

Getting single casks from major distilleries like Bowmore just makes me so happy. It's a unique way to look at the components of a particular distillery and dive into what makes them so special. This 20 year old Bowmore is no exception. The nose is exquisite. It's loaded with sea spray, sweet fruits, and extinguished campfire. I feel like I can reach out and touch the wet malt on the floor just as the dry smoky air starts to fill the room. It's clean and pure, powerful whisky. The barley song is loud and clear. All off the pieces are there to be examined, yet harmoniously balanced into a whole single experience. This whisky perfectly shows why single malt are so compelling. They are a fascinating way to watch the whole movie, frame by frame, as they age.

Staff ImageGary Westby | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: November 02, 2017

This fantastic refill hogshead of Bowmore has all the complexity that one would expect from a 20 year old Islay, balanced by fresh sea air. This is not a heavy dram, but rather an expansive one, and has the rare peacock's tail finish that I prize in the finest of drinks. It seems to expand after each sip, with the flavor coming on stronger after each sip. I like this best diluted down to about 40%, so I'll get almost a liter of pleasure out of my bottle!

Staff ImageAlex Schroeder | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: November 02, 2017

Im a huge fan of the Bowmore whiskeys, mostly because they display their Islay characteristics with subtlety and grace. The peat is always a soft undertone to the malty complexity. This single cask from Old Particular is faithful to that mission. Flavors of toasted cereals, orange citrus oil, vanilla and briny smoke are robust and sweet on the palate, with incredible integration. Normally sensitive to higher alcohol levels, at 55.7% abv this was very enjoyable neat for me. If you enjoy these Old Particular single cask offerings, this is definitely a winner.

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Dalwhinnie Distiller's Edition Oloroso Cask Single Malt Whisky (750ml) ($59.99)

Crafted from pure mountain water flowing 2,000 feet above sea level, Dalwhinnie embodies the gentle spirit of the Highlands, offering delicate floral aromas, whispy hints of heather, and a soft subtle finish. The distiller's edition is matured in oloroso sherry casks to create a spicy, peaty malt with sherry sweetness and a dry finish. The nose shows fresh sherry embraces the maltier, more honeyed aspects of Dalwhinnie. Peaty and surprisingly, still heathery. Spicy yet grapey. The palate has a big, spicy buzz, followed by an impressive build up of very clear, well defined malt. After a quick burst of sweetness, a rich, grape effect then moves in towards the middle. The finish has tons of oak. Very, very dry, with vanilla dominating. 43% ABV.

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Lagavulin "2016 Edition" 12 Year Old Natural Cask Strength Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky (750ml) (Previously $130) ($99.99)

The magic is real. This stellar limited release is Lagavulin's top regular bottling and it drinks like nothing else in the store. Lagavulin's string of 12-year-old releases has always begged the question from consumers: why is the 12 year old $40 more than the older 16-year expression? Good question! For one, the Lagavulin 16 is made in gigantic quantities and sold in every liquor store from San Francisco to Shanghai, making it a competitively priced product. On top of that, the 12 year old is bottled at cask strength and not produced in nearly as high of a volume. Fans of the distillery have long lusted for a higher-proofed version of their beloved Islay legend, and Diageo has sought to pacify that demand with the lovely 12-year expression. Tasting the 12 next to the 16, there's no doubt as to why one is more expensive than the other. Yet more proof that age can be incredibly deceiving.

Staff ImageDavid Othenin-Girard | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: May 03, 2017

Lagavulin is an absolutely magical place. It's incredible just how good Lagavulin is consistently in their 16 year expression. No whisky has made more people scotch obsessed than that one, but what you get in consistency on the 16, the 12 year cask strength doubles in intensity and depth. And quite the opposite from the Distillers Edition this one is not about the interplay of sherry or oak and the rich Lagavulin spirit. Instead, this is all about Lagavulin's most Lagavuliny self. Refill wood here, American Oak likely, white wine in color. An absolute monster of a nose yet somehow linear and unwavering. Dense power tar, peat, tea, earth, salt. The palate is like SpaceX Falcon 9 exiting the atmosphere only to return to earth directly on your palate. Exquisite smoke, dried roasted herbs, citrus pith, and a sense of purpose. I don't love that the price went up a bit on this, but I get it. It's worth every penny, even better than last years. This whisky remains legend of the whisky aisle from that legendary whisky isle.