The story—and flavor—of an indulgent whisky born more than half a century ago.
Photo by Nick Verola/courtesy of triton subs
As the warm nights of summer transition to autumn’s cooler evenings, the tastes of discerning imbibers inevitably shift from crisp, light-bodied, and lighter-colored concoctions to the richer and more luscious flavors of brown, cask-aged spirits. As your preferences make this seasonal shift—and if your disposable income allows—you would be wise to seek out a bottle of Black Bowmore 1964, 50 Year Old ($25,000), a refined whisky whose age, as the distillery reveals, is as much a credit to good fortune as it is good planning.
On November 5, 1964, Bowmore’s team of distillers and malt masters filled a small number of first-fill oloroso sherry hogshead casks with fresh spirit and set them down to age for an undetermined length of time in the distillery’s esteemed No. 1 vaults. Over the years, some of those casks were bottled; in 2002, two of them were combined to offset the significant evaporation that had occurred during the preceding decades. In 2007, the majority of existing casks were bottled and released as Black Bowmore 42 Year Old; however, the married cask was overlooked reportedly and continued to mature for another eight years before it was rediscovered and promptly bottled.
Like the preceding 42 Year Old—which offered notes of ginger and cinnamon as well as tastes of ripe mango, toffee, and dark chocolate—the 50 Year Old iteration, described by the distillery as “beautifully rounded and complex,” delivers a tasting experience layered with hints of tropical fruits, honeyed black truffles, and measured doses of the brand’s famous peat smoke. Those hoping to acquire a bottle will need patience and a strong network of connected purveyors, since only 159 bottles have been released for all markets around the world.
“Black Bowmore is one of those whiskies that is spoken about in hushed tones by collectors and aficionados around the world,” says David Turner, Bowmore’s distillery manager. “To have the opportunity to try Black Bowmore now—at the ripe old age of 50 years—is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
The Beatles first played the Ed Sullivan Show in the same year when Black Bowmore was set down to age in oloroso hogshead casks.