The Islay distillery of Bowmore has released the fifth and final edition of its luxury whisky, the Black Bowmore. It’s 50 years old, and it costs £16,000 a bottle ($19,600)…

The first Black Bowmore was originally released in 1993, and it is one of the first ever ‘luxury’ single malts. Every single edition is highly prized by collectors (the last one was released in 2007), and this latest one will be no different, with only 159 bottles available worldwide – ONLY 10 of which will be in Global Travel Retail. Like every other Black Bowmore, it was originally distilled in 1964, and has been bottled at 49% ABV (alcohol by volume).


In the 2007 edition of the Black Bowmore, five oloroso sherry hogsheads (casks that hold about 250 litres) were mixed together and released, with only 827 bottles made available. The whisky from two of those casks was then mixed together and left to mature for a while longer, until 2014 when they were bottled for this release and kept waiting until their Halloween unveiling.

A collector’s whisky demands a special presentation, and its stunning bottle was made using traditional glassblowing techniques by Glasstorm, a Scottish Highlands-based workshop that has done excellent work for Bowmore before. Glasgow cabinet-maker John Galvin Design, no stranger to the whisky industry, made the presentation case from Scottish oak, featuring silver inlays modelled on tree rings. ‘This is one of the finest things I’ve ever worked on’, stated Adrian Caroll, creative director of design agency D8 who worked with the artisans on designing the bottle and case.

‘We knew it’s going to be something really special’, stated former Bowmore distillery manager Eddie MacAffer. The whisky’s October 31st launch event marked his last day on the job before his retirement, after a career in the whisky industry that has lasted over 40 years.

So how does it taste? In theory, when the spirit is matured for such a long time in a small high quality sherry-soaked cask, the rich fruitiness of the sherry as well as the presence of the oak will be very intense. However, the long maturation also means that more alcohol has evaporated to the ‘Angel’s Share’, making it a gentler dram than what would normally come out of most casks.

Eddie MacAffer is not wrong. This is truly a special drink.

The nose is all fruit. Grapes, cherries, and raspberries are complemented by a velvety depth and richness that can only come with age.

The palate is similarly classy. Soft and rich, tropical fruits shine through, particularly papaya. Wine gums are also present, as is that nutty/cinnamon/grassy mix of rooibos tea. And to make it just right, there is a mild smoke that makes itself present at the very end.

The shame here is that as a whisky that has been designed as a collector’s piece, there will be more than a few purchasers of this whisky that will never open their bottle, for collection and investment purposes. Their loss.

Source: Forbes / Bowmore


Available from 1 November 2016, Black Bowmore® 50 Year Old, The Last Cask to be rediscovered has spent an astonishing 50 years in cask maturing in Bowmore’s No. 1 Vaults, the world’s oldest Scotch maturation warehouse.
1. Over the years, Black Bowmore® has been acclaimed as one of the most rare and sought-after single malt whiskies ever created, developed with an intense but perfectly balanced flavour of exceptional depth
2. As only 159 bottles of Black Bowmore® 50 Year Old will be available internationally, 10 of which will be in Global Travel Retail, this highly anticipated release is expected to become a collector’s whisky
3. After 50 years in the No.1 vaults, the last cask of Black Bowmore® to be rediscovered has developed a sublime elegance to reveal notes of tropical fruit, honeyed black truffle complemented by the signature peat smoke notes of Bowmore®