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Whisky Reviews

Bowmore 1969 (50 Years Old), 46.9% ABV



The 1960s hold a special place in the history of Scotch whisky, and Bowmore's creations from this era are a very big reason why. Among these, the Black Bowmore and Samaroli's Bowmore Bouquet stand out and are viewed by many whisky experts as the best Scotch whiskies ever bottled.


(Source: Whisky Auctioneer)


1960s’ Bowmores are celebrated for their complexity, rich fruitiness, and elegant smokiness; a flavour profile that modern whisky distilleries continue seeking to replicate but can never quite get right (at least at time of writing).

We recently had the pleasure of attending an event hosted by Bowmore and Beam Suntory, and got a chance to sample a number of rare expressions including this Bowmore 1969 that was distilled in the legendary 60s' and aged for at least 50 years. 

Bowmore 1969 (50 Years Old), 46.9% ABV – Review

American Bourbon and Oloroso Sherry European Oak Casks



Colour: Yellow gold.

Nose: From the nose you can immediately tell that this is markedly different from the other Bowmores. This is a departure from the Sherry-influenced expressions we've encountered before. It offers an array of fresh and ripe tropical fruits - apples, pineapples, mangoes, pomelo - blended with cream and vanilla. This fruity bouquet is complemented by a mild citric sourness and brown sugar. There is a much more pronounced smokiness than in earlier expressions, likely due to the lighter influence of Bourbon casks.

Palate: As expected of a 60s’ Bowmore, it’s really fruity with passionfruit, pomelo, grapefruit and apple juice. But there’re added dimensions of liveliness, showcasing a powerful lemon-like sourness and a bit of a “bite” typical of certain iconic old-style Islay whiskies. There’s a prominent minerality and coastal saltiness, vanilla, toasted coconut flakes, caramel and honey, all laced with lemon juice; very distinctive flavours.

Finish: Long and persistent. It unfolds with notes of fresh herbs like sage, menthol, and eucalyptus. There's barely any smoke, just a lingering sensation of coffee grounds and saltiness, transitioning into sweet aromatic oak towards the end.


My Thoughts:

This is simply exceptional. In contrast to the rather heavily sherried expressions we’ve explored, this expression is much lighter in colour and seems much more influenced by ex-Bourbon casks.

There’s the funky tropical fruits, the powerful liveliness of citrus, the aromatic oak. And of course the saltiness – the coastal influences stand out to me as I’ve never encountered such a strong maritime character in a whisky. It isn't cask strength, but I can imagine grandpa Samaroli nodding his approval to this dram.

This merits a perfect score in my book. 

My Rating: 10/10

This bottling will be made available for purchase in 2024.