This one is the standard 21 Year Old, but an older bottle that a bunch of us purchased as a group and shared. We believe it was distilled in 1974.
The colour is a dark amber. On the nose we have rich aromas of leather, shoe polish, wet bonfire, savoury herbs and a hint of tar. Peat smoke, of course, but it is behind the oak and the malt. Dark fruits such as dates and raisins. Cinnamon apples. A drop of water brings out more smoke. Peat, malt, oak and fruit are all in perfect balance.
Rich on the palate with balsamic, plum pudding and dark butterscotch. Again, the peat stays in the background. A touch medicinal, like a Fisherman's Friend but much lighter. Oily, almost syrupy mouthfeel. Water brightens it up nicely, adding spice and smoke. A beautifully old-fashioned whisky.
The finish is herbal but with strawberries-and-cream and light smoke. This is fantastic stuff, old-school aged malt, with much more old leather and rich spice than you get with more recent bottlings, even from well-matured stock. Tasting side-by-side with the 100 Degrees Proof I just reviewed, there is no contest. The DNA is there but otherwise they are very different. The younger one is bright and shiny, and the older one is richer and more luxurious (no surprise there, though). Makes me want to drink old, old scotch all the day long.
An earlier and older Bowmore...great. That's a good plan to share bottles. I think we'll see more and more of that with the increasing prices. Thanks for your review!