In late 2012, a few mates and I spent about a week or so on the Hebridean Isle of Islay, non-soberly carousing our way through the distilleries, whisky bars and restaurants. And…uh…pretty much anywhere else we could drink (legally or otherwise).
Late one eve, just before last call in Bowmore’s legendary whisky bar, Duffies, the manager, David, bought me a dram of something special. Very special. So special, in fact, that it ended up being my favorite dram of the trip. And trust me…there were a lot of good drams on that journey.
The malt David picked for me was a Bowmore Feis Ile 2011 limited release of the Laimrig 15 y.o. Now…just to clarify…this was not the regular release of Laimrig, but one specific to the annual whisky and music festival on Islay, Feis Ile. Sadly…for all my begging, pleading, cajoling and threatening (well…not really the latter), I was unable to procure a bottle of this. It apparently sold out within hours of release, so my chances of scoring one weren’t good, but you can’t blame me for trying. I’ll now shamelessly use this forum to ask again…if anyone has a bottle they’ll part with, please drop me a line.
The release we’re reviewing here is not that particular one, but is still a helluva dram. Big and rich fruits meet machinery-esque flinty and industrial notes meet the smoke and brine we’d expect from Bowmore. This is a return to old school Bowmore. We’re veering away from the florals of recent years and moving back into the fruit-rich sherries that made for magical releases from this distillery through the 60s and 70s. Yum.
There’s a lot going on with this whisky…and that’s a good thing. I love it when I can sink into a dram for an hour or so and just…escape. I think I could pick flavor threads out of this for hours.
Nose: Chocolate covered cherries. Nice jammy fruits. Tobacco, leather and shoe polish. Lightly smoked pork. Flinty and oily. Some coal and peat smoke. Smells like evening walks on chilly nights on Islay…smoke lingering in the oceanic air. Some rubber. Raisin and eucalyptus.
Palate: Plum and grape juice. Again…rubber. Smoke. Slightly tarry. Salty. A little bit of pomegranate. Cough drops/throat lozenges. Slightly pithy. Very, very drinkable.
– Reviewed by: Curt
– Photo: Curt