Advent Day 24: 1999 Bowmore 14 y.o. (A.D. Rattray)

Secret Spirits Advent Calendar Day 24 – December 24th103

1999 Bowmore 14 y.o. (A.D. Rattray)

Cask #2261 Sherry

58.3% abv

Score:  88.5/100


A whisky from the Secret Spirits Advent Calendar First Edition.

We’ve had some approximation of Islay whisky in a couple of the calendar’s cubbies, but until now we’ve not yet tackled a true ‘named’ Islay distillery.  Seeing as how A.D. Rattray is one of the independent bottlers behind the Secret Spirits advent calendar, Bowmore is actually a very logical jumping off point. Logical, that is, if you’re aware that the current owner of A.D. Rattray is Tim Morrison, formerly top dawg of Morrison Bowmore.  Tim’s stash of casks (likely largely built of gracefully maturing Bowmore, I’d guess) is supposedly a thing of legend.

Bowmore itself is arguably Islay’s most iconic distillery.  It sits along the shores of Loch Indaal, where the Atlantic waves batter the whitewashed walls of the warehouses (apologies for the unintentional alliteration).  This distillery is responsible for some of my favorite and most coveted whiskies of all time.  The more I investigate the depth and breadth of Bowmore, the further I fall in love with it.  Much magic happened here in ages past, and I sort of think we’re heading back in that direction, if recent releases are any indication.  Hopefully they’re hoarding away some glorious old stocks for future years.

For those that may be new(ish) to Bowmore, don’t expect the profile of this A.D. Rattray expression to carry through in most of their distillery bottlings.  This is a bit of a one-off.  Sure, the fingerprints may give hints that lead us to Bowmore if we’re up to spending some time sussing out the nuances in here, but the whisky at a glance could be mistaken for almost any one of the other producers on the island.

That doesn’t even matter though.  All that does matter is that we have another bruising beauty of a malt to curl up with on Christmas eve.  This is unquestionably a ‘fireplace dram’.

Nose:  Dusty.  Ash, peat and smoke.  Caramel.  Flinty or slate-like.  Medicinal, iodine smells.  Sweetened and softened by sherry, but not overpowered at all.  Peat is still driving.  Lemon juice on shellfish.  Saltwater.  Wet hay.  Quite sweet, oily and syrupy.

Palate:  Salt and peppery.  A lot of smoke.  Like whole oysters thrown on an open fire.  Some tar and caramel apples.  Oceanic seaside notes.  Smoldering hay.  Granny Smith apples.  Vague reminders of Port Charlotte (without the butyric note) and Laphroaig (without the overly earthy medicinal note).

Thoughts:  Tough one to reconcile as a Bowmore, but a hell of a whisky.  This had to have been second or third fill casking.

Bonus:  My mate, Jonathan, and I are gonna blog on these drams side by side through the season.  Here’s a link to his notes on the same whisky at


– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Curt

1 thought on “Advent Day 24: 1999 Bowmore 14 y.o. (A.D. Rattray)

  1. Aidan

    I’ve just discovered somewhere online in the UK which sells this bottling. Your tasting notes sound really nice, but I personally cannot justify it – a (rather nice, apparently) 21 Year Old Longmorn (also by AD Rattray) is £8 cheaper than the 1999 Bowmore.


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