I previously tried the 13 year old Maltmen’s Selection and the 14 year old Mashmen’s Selection, both outstanding drams. When I visited the Bowmore Distillery in September 2017, this new distillery exclusive Warehousemen’s Selection was on offer: a 17 Year Old that had matured on bourbon, sherry and wine casks. I got a sample, as we were actually quite late for our tour and the distillery was about to close. Instead of downing it on the spot with the staff jingling their keys at us, we took a sample home.
The nose is a surprising panoply of spices. I am reminded of the French Provence. Rosemary, oregano, paprika, thyme… what is this? Then quite a bit of fruit kicks in. Think oranges, strawberry, grapefruit, apricots and mango. Very layered. Some nuts shine through, slowly evolving towards almond paste. A hint of curry ketchup… For a moment, it seemed like this nose was going to go over the top, but it settles fairly quickly and invites you to further discover it. Very nice indeed.
It is creamy on the palate, fruity and sweet (vanilla, apricots, mango, candied oranges) with honey and vanilla and a sour touch from the wine cask. But now it reveals its Islay heritage by adding a lovely trace of woodsmoke and a wonderful smokiness. It makes the mouth go warm and puts your saliva glands in overdrive. Some nutmeg and salt complete the picture. And that is one of great complexity.
On the medium to long finish, some tobacco and leather join in.
The nose was beautiful, but it goes the extra mile on the palate. Very layered, complex Bowmore. What class! Pity you can only find it at the distillery.