A remarkable 1970s Bowmore 12 year 40%

Much has been said about how whisky styles have changed over the decades. That opinion is widely shared by those who started their sampling journey in the 1980s where most single malts were distilled in the 1970s or earlier. Yet most of these impressions remain in memories rather than the opportunity to test the theory.

Today, obtaining a sample of such earlier styles is challenging… most are found in private collections or auctions. Which is where this lovely little Bowmore 12 year miniature from the 1970s came. A wee dark coloured squat bottle that simply stated its age, alcohol strength and that it was matured in sherry casks. No hint of further details as this was simply a standard issue bottling for its time.

Bowmore 12 year (1970s – 80s) 40%

  • NoseHing (asafetida), pomelo, passion fruit vying with grapefruit, smoke and peat yet quite restrained, subtle, as it continued to open more fruit like cashew, pineapple and mango
  • Palate – Just as hing was the 1st predominant aroma, cashew fruit was on the palate, intensely sweet and dangerously drinkable with just a kiss of peat, brilliant body for a 12 year as it really sits on your palate
  • Finish – Peaty, leather, chocolate

This may sound a bit fanciful, but it had a joyful character on the nose, bright and fruity, superbly accessible and enjoyable on the palate with peat most pronounced in the rather delicious finish.

Like the Glen Grant 60 year old just sampled, this Bowmore was matured in sherry casks – but clearly of a different calibre and character than today’s sherry. Again, much more restrained overall, even the peat quality was faint – leading to speculation of re-fill sherry casks and curiosity about how the “barely there” peat quality came into play.

It truly was such a contrast in style to any Bowmore sampled in the last few years – which are often quite bold in character. Whereas this wasn’t clamouring for attention by swaggering into our senses, instead gained exclamations of “Fantastic! Stunning! Superb!” for its much more nuanced dimensions.

For some, it was the clear favourite of the evening – no simple feat given its competition!

Krishna shared his opinion that this Bowmore 12 year has all the “beauty of the old style.”

He went on to regale us with the tale of the term “FWP” (French Whore’s Perfume) used to describe a shift in character – particularly pronounced from Bowmore post Suntory coming into the picture for a few years. First detected by some whisky enthusiasts, they identified a peculiar soapy quality that they felt ruined the whisky… later linked to the soap used to clean the stills!

Since corrected, another Malt Maniac Serge shares:

The original ‘problem’ originated in the 1980’s and was corrected at some point during the 1990s. The FWP spirit sort of worked its way through the system and you shouldn’t detect the unsavoury FWP trait any more in bottlings that were released in recent years.

This 5 ml bottle was purchased by Krishna Nakula for £8. For those interested, a 740ml bottle could be found on Whisky.Online.com for a mere £450.


What else did we sample in our Krishna Collection from July 2017?

PS you can contrast my sampling of a more recent incarnation of the Bowmore 12 year here.

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Krishna Collection – Enjoying a few drams with a Malt Maniac

India’s Malt Maniac Krishna Nakula is a rather fine fellow to dram with… So when we thought July would be a slow whisky month, a few of us decided it would be an absolutely brilliant idea to see if Krishna would be free for a short visit to Mumbai. Lucky us – he was!

And he didn’t come empty-handed… Nope. He brought along an assortment of miniatures that we had the pleasure of enjoying a wee nip… quick glimpses all concentrated in a brief but memorable one hour of discovery.

What did we sample?

Links to more detailed tasting notes are provided above. Some were truly quite an eye-opener, so be sure to check out what we discovered!

Other evenings with Krishna Nakula include:

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Bowmore 12 year 40%

When I spotted this bottle, I knew the Whisky Ladies were already gearing up for a special Bowmore session. So thought why not take a sample to compare…

However as the months went by, our Bowmore Travel Trilogy evening kept getting delayed. And there was no way I wanted this sample to suffer neglect.

Bowmore just so happens to be lead by a woman master distiller – Rachel Bowie.

Bowmore 12

Bowmore 12 year 40%

  • Nose – Sweet citrus with a hint of sweet leather with a curl of smoke.
  • Palate – A tingle of peat with a nice chewy quality, lots of oak and some sweet spices thrown in for good measure – particularly clove
  • Finish – More dry spices and a hint of bitter chocolate

Overall it was a treat to enjoy a solid Bowmore dram.

Other Bowmore’s sampled include:

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Winnipeg stash – Pure Malt 21, Bowmore 12, Macallan 15, Tomatin 12

It is finally time to sit down before the year comes to a close and share tasting notes from whiskies acquired from the 2016 Winnipeg stash. These four come from a friend’s whisky collection – in his own words “I don’t collect stamps.

Pure Malt 21, Bowmore 12, Macallan 15, Tomatin 12

Naturally I selected an eclectic range of whiskies not yet sampled…

I then added to this mix, a score from Winnipeg’s Cabinet:

Curious about the 2015 Canadian sampling ‘score’? Read more here

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“I don’t collect stamps” – Raiding a whisky collection

A friend in Winnipeg quite aptly quipped “I don’t collect stamps!”

Nope… that he does not indeed.

Instead, he has a rather eclectic whisky collection gathered from jaunts around the world with his partner… from the dead of a Winnipeg winter to adventurous travels all around Asia… invariably a bottle or two winds its way back to the prairies to join the collection.

Winnipeg Whisky Collection

Winnipeg Whisky Collection

Naturally I shamelessly raided the whisky cabinet and also a couple from other sources too.

Here’s what I managed to ‘score’ from my recent trip to Winnipeg:

Winnipeg Whisky Stash

Winnipeg Whisky Stash

Some may recall last year’s Canadian samples score from my aunt and uncle who run a whisky club in Fort Frances, Ontario. It was such a welcome bonus to try whiskies I likely would not have otherwise managed to acquire.

Just like tasting groups are a terrific way to try more than you can personally buy, sharing samples is a wonderful way to discover whiskies too.

I’m looking forward to tasting these whiskies, remembering the kind souls who shared their tipple or two!

Related posts:

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