Bowmore No. 1 raises funds for health care concerns
Photos courtesy of Morrison Bowmore Distillers
According to the folks over at Bowmore, the Islay distillery founded in 1779, five Scottish charities will be the recipient of Bowmore’s largesse this Christmas as the brand bestows £11,000 upon each of them.
The money comes from the sale of the No. 1 bottle of its oldest ever expression, the rare Bowmore 1957, 54 Years which was sold at the Bowmore Distillery on Islay to an undisclosed US-based buyer.
The bottle, which sold for £100,000 (approximately $160,000), is not only the oldest whisky the distillery has ever released, it is also the oldest Islay Single Malt ever released. Distilled in 1957 and bottled in 2011, this 54-year-old whisky has been maturing in the finest oak in Bowmore’s legendary No. 1 Vaults, the oldest maturation warehouse in Scotland.
A collection of 1957 casks were bottled in 1995 but one in particular was held back because it was more exceptional than the rest. Since 1995, the whisky in that cask has been examined every six months to check the quality, the taste, the developments and changes the spirit was taking on its aging voyage. In 2011 it was determined that the liquid had reached its potential and was bottled.
Only 12 bottles exist in the world, two of which are kept in the Morrison Bowmore archives and nine now remain for sale at the Bowmore Distillery. Christmas present, anyone?
Bottle No. 1’s profit is going to charities that encompass a variety of worthy medical causes: Alzheimer Scotland (care for people with dementia, their caregivers and families); The Beatson Oncology Centre (care for cancer patients receiving treatment in the west of Scotland); Chas (children’s hospice services); Erskine (medical care for Armed Forces); and Marie Curie Cancer Care (cancer care and research).
In addition to the stunning liquid inside, the new owner will also own the artwork that contains it. The bottles that hold Bowmore 1957 have been hand-blown and sculpted by glass artists Brodie Nairn and Nichola Burns into the shape of waves reminiscent of those that constantly crash against the No. 1 Vaults’ sea-facing walls and the glass is inlaid with shimmering flecks of platinum. Adorning each bottle is a platinum neck collar, hand-engraved with the bottle number and spirit strength, and platinum stopper hand-crafted by Hamilton & Inches, Warrant Holder to the Queen. The bottle and accompanying glasses and water pitcher, also hand-blown by Nairn and Burns, are nestled in a presentation box created by acclaimed woodworker Peter Toaig, using hand-selected pieces of Scottish Oak.
Says Mike Keiller, Morrison Bowmore Distillers Chief Executive Officer, “We are delighted to have sold bottle No. 1 of our Bowmore 1957 just before Christmas, allowing us to keep our promise to donate all the net proceeds to charity as our gift to those in need in Scotland.”
Cask Maturation and Tasting Notes
This 54-year-old Bowmore 1957 (42.1% ABV) is a symphony of aromas and flavors never before experienced. After distillation in 1957, the new spirit was placed into a second fill sherry cask (where it spent 43 years) and then in 2000 was moved into a second fill bourbon cask. At first breath, an elixir of blueberries and wild figs with mellow almonds, tropical fruit and rich oaky overtones hits the nose. The palate reveals layer upon layer of sweet and refined ocean tastes with soft blueberries, cassis and figs, sea salt and fresh eucalyptus. Next, a wisp of teasing smoke and traces of dark chocolate fuse with notes of grapefruit and juicy oak, carried along by a warming marine breeze. This sensory journey ends with a long and whispering finish of cassis, bergamot and star anise.
THE Bowmore Distillery
Founded in 1779, Bowmore is the oldest Distillery (www.bowmore.com/our-story/) on Islay. Islay malts are famous for their characteristic smokiness and Bowmore is no exception. Bowmore carefully smokes its malt and uses skills handed down from generation to generation to craft a perfectly balanced single malt. Bowmore’s adherence to traditional production methods helps to shape the character of its single malts – they are one of only a few distilleries anywhere which still produces its own floor malted barley, hand-turned by traditional wooden malt shovels. It draws water from the Laggan River, with its rich peaty overtones, and it’s the same Islay peat that fires the malt drying kiln. Bowmore Distillery’s close proximity to the sea is also vital in determining the final character of the spirit. The famous Bowmore No. 1 Vaults is where most of the whiskies spend their time resting quietly in the cool, dark, damp cellars below sea level, oblivious to the waves thrashing the Vault’s sea-facing wall. They mature in oak casks, previously used for bourbon, sherry or claret, gradually developing rich and mellow flavors. It’s this combination of peat, barley, sea breeze, water, wood, people and tradition that together create the perfectly balanced warm and smoky character of Bowmore single malt whiskies.