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2012 Old Forester Birthday Bourbon Review

Today has been a good day. My UPS driver just dropped off a bottle of 2012 Old Forester Birthday Bourbon. Celebrating the birthday of George Garvin Brown, the founder of Brown-Forman and Old Forester. This is the 11th limited edition release and may just me my favorite expression of Birthday Bourbon yet.

“This year’s vintage release of Old Forester is crafted from an 82 barrel batch, selected from a single day of production. That day’s mash bill had 2% extra malt added to the fermenter resulting in the creation of a more nutty spirit,” said Chris Morris, Brown-Forman Master Distiller. “Once barreled, the bourbon was ricked on the fourth floor in warehouses H and I where it experienced a balanced maturation environment. There the angels’ share resulted in low barrel yields and therefore intense barrel concentration.”

Old Forester Birthday Bourbon is twelve years old and comes with a MSRP of $49.99. At 97 proof, this is a bourbon that needs no water to open it up, its delicious on its own, but water won’t hurt it.

“The 2012 Birthday Bourbon expression is full of ripe fruit character with oak sweetness, warming spices and almond nutiness,” says Morris. “A rich aroma and a long, warm finish make this yet another must have release.”

On the nose, I get vanilla pound cake, oak, caramel and just the slightest hint of ripe banana. As this hits the palate, notes of freshly roasted coffee, chocolate, cinnamon, oak and allspice appear before a strong note of roasted almonds that continues through to the finish. The finish is long and luxurious, with more almond and marzipan notes, honey and rich oak ending on the palate. Truly a magnificent bourbon and one that I’m, yet again, happy to see.

If you are a bourbon lover, Old Forester Birthday Bourbon 2012 is a must have. Highly recommended.

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Balvenie 17yr Doublewood Review

If you know me at all, you know I’m a whisky man at heart. Sure, I enjoy other spirits, but if I was stranded on a desert island, I could happily drink whisky and only whisky until the end of my days. Now I enjoy the depth and breadth of the world of whisky, from American bourbon to Irish whiskey to Japanese and Canadian whiskies, but my favorite category is single malt Scotch whisky. I wasn’t always a single malt man, it took my father-in-law to turn me on to the category, but I quickly fell in love and began a journey of discovery that has been both enlightening and delicious.

One of my favorite drams is The Balvenie. I don’t think I’ve ever had a less than excellent dram from The Balvenie, and that is as much due to their commitment to quality as anything else. The Balvenie actually grows their own barley, still does its own malting on traditional floor maltings and has both coopers and a coppersmith on site to tend to the barrels and stills.

Perhaps my favorite expression has been The Balvenie Doublewood 12 yr. Aged in American oak whiskey barrels, then finished in European oak sherry casks, this whisky is simply a great dram. When The Balvenie Doublewoood 17yr was announced, I couldn’t wait to taste it, and, I have to say, it is an outstanding whisky.

I’ll be quite frank, this last weekend was a tough weekend, so much so that I couldn’t wait for Monday to come. On Sunday night, I was debating a nightcap and decided that instead of holding on to the sample that I received of The Balvenie Doublewood 17 yr as I usually do for review, I’d have just a wee dram before bed. It turned out to be the best thing that happened that weekend and literally sent me to bed with a smile on my face. The Balvenie Doublewood 17 year is a classic single malt whisky and I can’t imagine ever not having a bottle in my whisky collection. Its that good.

The nose on this whisky is complex, exotic and enticing. Vanilla, honey, tropical flowers and almond appear over a nice oak undertone. On the palate, this dram truly shines with a smorgasbord of flavors ranging from orange marmalade, chocolate, marzipan and spice notes before giving way to a truly enjoyable finish characterized by cinnamon, orange peel and clove before a final, honeyed oak flavor lifts off of the tongue. This is truly a memorable dram and perhaps Master Distiller David Stewart’s finest effort yet.

I’m looking forward to tasting this whisky with my father-in-law soon. After all, I figure that he introduced me to the world of single malts, the least I can do is let him taste some of the great discoveries that I’ve made. And this, The Balvenie Doublewood 17 yr, well, this is definitely a single malt to treasure.

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This is what a typical mezcal palenque looks like

Sorry I’ve been off the grid for a bit. Life, you know? Anyway, I just got back from Oaxaca to study mezcal. It was an interesting experience. A number of the small mezcal producers just sell on the side of the road or at their farm. This was one of the first palenque’s visited, I believe this is called Antigua Tradicion. The pit was out back and inside, the stills and the tahona were there along with these demijohns of mezcal for sale. I’ll post more, but I thought you might enjoy the pic. I tasted but didn’t buy anything here, although I did purchase some mezcal from an unlicensed distiller a few towns over. I think here it was $100 pesos per liter if I recall correctly (about $10 USD).

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El Tesoro Tequila Tasting at Casa Del Matador Portland 7/19

Just a heads up for those of you in the Portland area who enjoy tequila. I won’t be in attendance as I have a prior commitment but this looks like fun. Plus, El Tesoro is always good tequila and meeting Master Distillers is educational and usually eye opening. Anyway, read on for the press release…



El Tesoro Tequila Tasting at Casa del Matador NW


Tex-Mex, tequila flights and Q&A with Master Distiller



WHAT:                 Carlos Camarena, Master Distiller of El Tesoro Tequila, will host a premium tequila tasting at Casa del Matador, the premier Tex-Mex restaurant and tequila bar in Northwest Portland.  The evening will offer guests the opportunity to sip exceptional El Tesoro Tequilas, including the Platinum, Reposado, Añejo, and Extra Añejo varieties, as well as ask questions of their creator. The limited-edition Paradiso (Extra Añejo) is aged for five years and alone retails for $25 per shot!


The ticket price includes a sampling of Casa del Matador appetizers and a taste of the four above-mentioned El Tesoro tequilas.  Additional specials, drinks and dishes from the full menu will be available for purchase.


Buy tickets here: http://casadelmatadortasting.eventbrite.com


WHERE                 Casa del Matador NW

1438 23rd Ave. NW, Portland, OR 97210

On NW 23rd Ave between Pettygrove and Quimby



WHEN                  Thursday, July 19 from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.



MORE DETAILS  For more information, please visitwww.facebook.com/Casa.Del.Matador.NW

Alsace Day 2

I finished up Day 1 with Christian Beyer, tasting my way through his fabulous wines. I was especially impressed with the Emile Beyer 2010 L’Hostellerie Pinot Blanc, made from 40 year old vines and featuring 10g of residual sugar. A nice balance of sugar and acid, this wine would be perfect for white meat or seafood.

Also notable was the Emile Beyer L’Hostellerie Pinot Noir 2011, a rich, Burgundian-style wine with notes of raspberry and other red fruits intermixed with baking spices. Should someone tell me that this wine hailed from Beaune, I would not have hesitated to believe them.

Day 2 began with a beautiful drive from Eguisheim to Kayserberg, a medieval mountain town. My first stop was Domaine Weinbach-Faller, where I met the charming Ms. Catherine Faller at the Domaine. A former monastery, her ancestors had purchased the Domaine after the French Revolution and now make excellent wines on the property. This winery was yet another example of biodynamic winemaking. Catherine was the ultimate host, as we sat in a small drawing room, tasting our way through the wineries offerings. Most of the wines come from the 5 acre clos surrounding the Domaine and the surrounding hillsides. A glass of Domain Faller Weinbach Sylvaner 2010 made me crave oysters, with its full-bodied spice notes. A taste of Domaine Faller Weinbach Riesling Grand Cru Schlossberg, a wine made from the upper, more rocky slope of the Schlossberg vineyard offered a nice minerality, good acid and peach and nectarine notes before an unexpectedly long finish.”When Pinot Noir and Riesling are good, it is emotional, it draws another response”, Catherine said. I couldn’t agree more.

A 2012 Muscat, a blend of 70% Muscat Otonel and 30% Muscat d’Alsace was bright and floral, the perfect pairing for that oh-so-hard to pair food, asparagus. With a bit of age, these Muscats develop a secondary mineral note which makes them even more enjoyable.

Lunch was at the Domaine. Prepared by the Domaine’s chef, I was joined by Catherine’s sister Laurence and we drank vintage Riesling from the family cellar with foie gras, good crusty bread and an excellent chicken dish. The casual elegance of eating in the kitchen of a 16th century Domaine will never be lost on me. Its one of those “only in France” moments. No one has the capacity for hospitality like the French, and the Alsatians may just be the most hospitable of all.

After leaving the Domaine, I drove into the village proper and took a tour of the quaint village. While I loved Colmar and Eguisheim, Kayserberg was equally charming, and the Hotel Le Chambard was a modern as the village was quaint.

After my tour, it was back to tasting wine! This time at Domaine Meyer-Fonne in a small town to the south, Katzenthal. I met up with the winemaker, Felix Meyer-Fonne and learned that this is a family business. His wife was busy giving a group of Germans a tour and I met his delightful daughters and their pet rabbit in the middle of our tasting. It was the only moment when I truly got homesick, seeing a happy father with his daughters reminded me of home, but refocusing on wine helped me through the task at hand.

The Meyer-Fonne Grand Cru Riesling Kaefferkopf 2011 comes from the oldest Grand Cru in Alsace. A combination of soils run through the vineyard, granite, limestone, marl and red sandstone, creating an interesting flavor profile. This wine was rich with notes of grapefruit pips, citron and underripe nectarine.

The Meyer-Fonne 2010 Pfoeller Riesling was another great discovery. Some of the grapes in this harvest had botrytis, leaving a high residual sugar of 18 grams (for comparison, most Grand Cru Rieslings are between 5-9 grams of RS) and high acid. Lemon curd was predominant, as was an undertone of minerality that provided balance.

After tasting, Felix and I met at the winstub at the hotel for dinner. I had an excellent Alsatian meal of veal kidneys in mustard with spaetzle, which we washed down with a bottle of Felix’s Cremant d’Alsace and a nice Pinot Noir. Dessert consisted of a fresh mountain cheese, covered with kirsch and berries and just the lightest dusting of sugar for an sweet end to yet another perfect day in Alsace.

Alsace Day 1

I’ve travelled to France quite a bit. Its easily my favorite destination, given my love for good wine and food. But I’d never been to Alsace. The nearest I’d come was Lorraine, itself a pretty amazing destination (if you’ve never been to Nancy, do yourself a favor and put it on your list of destinations to visit soon), so when I had the chance to visit Alsace, home of more Michelin stars than anyplace but Paris itself and famous for its white wines, well, who am I kidding, of course I was going to go.

So getting to France proved a challenge. My Delta flight (ughh, why didn’t I fly Air France?) was delayed three hours out of SLC, so by the time I’d arrived in Paris, my train to Strasbourg and beyond was long gone. Luckily, the wonderful people at the train station were able to rebook me on a later train, and I spent a quiet evening travelling from Paris to Strasbourg to Colmar where I checked into the beautiful Grand Hotel Bristol.  Unfortunately, my late arrival meant that I missed out on seeing much of Colmar or the Hotel’s one Michelin starred restaurant, but I slept like a baby and ate an enormous breakfast the next morning before setting off to Orschwihr.

If you haven’t driven in France, its quite a pleasant experience for an American. Very civilized and the few differences between French driving laws and American laws become readily apparent. I highly recommend a car to discover the Route des Vins, its really the only way to fully experience the Alsatian countryside.

So I was off to Orschwihr, to meet with Ms. Marie Zusslin, winemaker at Domaine Valentin Zusslin (not to be confused with the other winemaker Zusslin in Orschwihr). I pulled up at the family winery and was greeted by Marie’s brother and family, who couldn’t do enough to make me feel welcome while I waited for Marie to drive down from her house a bit further up the hill. I can sit here and wax poetic about the wines I tasted (and I probably should), as this family has been making wines since the 17th century in Orschwihr, but just listing my tasting notes for Zusslin wines would run pages and pages. Perhaps when I’m done with these blog posts I’ll run my tasting notes. I’ll note that Domaine Valentin Zusslin has about 25% of its total production given over to Cremant d’Alsace, the excellent and value priced sparkling wine that the region has become famous for. For the United States market, Zusslin focuses primarily on Riesling, Cremant and Pinot Noir selections, and Zusslin’s Pinot Noirs were my first introduction to France’s “other” great Pinot region. While Alsatian Pinot Noir isn’t as earthy as the Pinots hailing from Burgundy, I found that a lot of the Pinot Noir that I tasted in Alsace had a similar flavor profile to the Oregon Pinots that I’m so fond of at home.

Interestingly, Domaine Valentin Zusslin is both biodynamic and organic, but they’ve recently replaced their tractor with a beautiful horse. When I asked Marie about the horse, she replied that the horse offers no pollution and it doesn’t compact the soil like a tractor would. I found it fascinating to hear a winemaker so focused on being a guardian of the land for future generations. The results show in the wines, which were truly impressive from top to bottom. My favorite? The Cremant Rose Brut Zero made with 100% Pinot Noir. This sparkler offers 12.5% abv and receives no dosage or sulfites. This is a sexy bottle of bubbles, full of ripe raspberry and strawberry notes, perfect for a picnic lunch or a romantic evening.

Later, Marie and I drove up the hill to her house for lunch, where her winemaker husband barbecued and we enjoyed a delicious lunch looking out to the east and the Black Forest. It was just my first taste of Alsatian hospitality, and little did I know that people would be inviting me into their homes and their lives throughout this trip, making Alsace a truly special place in my heart.

As I left, I headed to the quaint medieval town of Eguisheim, a town that had just recently won a contest as the prettiest village in all of France. I can’t argue with that assessment, it is truly a stunning place. First up, I went to Domaine Wolfberger, one of the larger wine producers in Alsace.  Wolfberger offers the depth and breadth of Alsatian wines in one location. Tasting my way through these wines was another eye-opening experience. One standout, the 2010 Wolfberger Eichberg Riesling offered good acidity and a nice balance of minerality along with green apple, peach and nectarine notes. Its the kind of wine I could enjoy on any given day, and one that works incredibly well with the rich local cuisine.

Next up, before checking into the quaint La Ferme du Pape for the evening, I met with Christian Beyer, the winemaker at Domaine Emile Beyer. We strolled through Eguisheim (Christian is the deputy Mayor if I understood correctly) as he told me about the history of the town. Built in the 900′s, Eguisheim is famous as the birthplace of Pope Leo IX and also well-known for all of the lovely flowers that residents grow throughout the city. Eguisheim is the kind of village that seems too good to be true, it is perfect in an almost Disney-esque sense, with giant storks making their nests on top of the church and beautiful crooked streets. I probably could have spend a few days in Eguisheim, but Christian was busy explaining to me what makes Alsatian wines so special.

“Riesling is the king of Alsatian wines. These are some of the most exciting wines in the world” he said before going on to explain that the big differences in terroir found in Alsatian wines had a lot to do with the different soil compositions. As we tasted through Rieslings grown on calcerous soil versus limestone soils, it was readily apparent that the soil compositions of Alsace play a major role in the terroir of the region.





Bacardi celebrates 150th year with success and growth

This press release came across my desk this morning and its definitely something worth reading.  So many people forget that Castro stole Bacardi’s distillery and assets in Cuba after the revolution. The story of Bacardi is really a remarkable story, but one that hasn’t concluded yet. I fully expect to see Bacardi rum made in Cuba again sometime in my lifetime, and I think that day is approaching sooner, rather than later. If you ever want to read the full story of Bacardi, Tom Gjelten’s book is the best place to start.


Anyway, congratulations to the bat on 150 successful years and here is to 150 more!


HAMILTON, Bermuda, Oct. 15, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — In its 150th anniversary yearlong celebration, Bacardi celebrates its tremendous success as the world’s largest privately-held spirits Company and the incredible drive and perseverance it took to get there following the illegal confiscation of its assets in Cuba on October 15, 1960 – 52 years ago. While that event was an extraordinary event in the Company’s history after nearly 100 years of being in Cuba, it became a critical turning point to propel the family-owned Company and its namesake BACARDI® rum brand to take on a greater international profile. This turned BACARDI into the globally recognized brand it is today. In fact, within 20 years following the loss of the Company’s assets in Cuba, BACARDI rum became the number-one premium distilled spirits brand in the United States. Less than a year after that, it was the number-one selling spirit brand in the world.

To view the multimedia assets associated with this release, please click:  http://www.multivu.com/mnr/53412-bacardi-rum-150-anniversary-illegal-cuban-confiscation-international-grow

(Photo:  http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20121015/MM89922)

“The fact that Bacardi has persevered to become a recognized global brand, as well as a leader in the spirits industry shouldn’t be surprising to anyone who understands both the culture and spirit of the Company,” said Facundo L. Bacardi, Chairman of Bacardi Limited. “Resilience and perseverance are part of our 150-year DNA, not only as a family, but as a Company. We’ve survived bankruptcy, rebellions, devastating earthquakes, the U.S. prohibition era, the Cuban Revolution and exile from our homeland, and through it all, we’ve known that nothing can break the indomitable spirit of the family or the spirit enjoyed the world over. Difficult times may come again, but the lessons of our Company’s past are clear to never count us out.”

Quick action in face of adversity

The story of Bacardi in Cuba once again demonstrates the Company’s ability to adapt, stay relevant and continue to flourish amidst tremendous difficulties. Bacardi proudly proclaims a heritage that is uniquely Cuban, including the honor in 1910 as Cuba’s first multinational Company. From humble beginnings in Santiago de Cuba in 1862, Bacardi – the family, Company and brand – succeeded despite tremendous personal and political upheaval in its first 100 years including war, bankruptcy and prohibition.

In fact, the threats by Fulgencio Batista’s government during the 1940s-50s, which included his decision to nationalize Bacardi for one day, propelled Bacardi executives to safeguard the BACARDI rum intellectual property, secret formula and proprietary yeast critical to making BACARDI rum by moving them out of Cuba.

These prescient steps had already been taken when, on October 13, 1960, the new Cuban Revolutionary Government, which had come to power in 1959, approved Law 890 nationalizing all major industries and putting to an end to private property in Cuba. Besides foreign-owned property and entities, nearly 400 Cuban-owned companies, including banks and manufacturing facilities, were also illegally seized.

On October 14, Cuban regime army officers headed to the Bacardi sales office in Havana with a single-page document claiming control of the Cuban Company. But the new Cuban government made a critical error, and the repercussions live on in the world of rum today. The officers went to the wrong building and the wrong city of Havana. The Bacardi headquarters and production facility were in Santiago, on the other side of the country. Those responsible for seizing Bacardi had to catch a flight to get to Santiago. This gave Bacardi a 24-hour heads-up to destroy all of the BACARDI signature yeast – which gives BACARDI rum its smooth taste and consistency no matter where in the world you enjoy it – thereby preventing anyone else from ever making BACARDI rum in Cuba.

The following day, on October 15, officials of the revolutionary government showed up at the Bacardi headquarters in Santiago and forced Bacardi executives to sign an “Expropriation Document.”  With the stroke of a pen, the Company’s Cuban assets were confiscated and the Bacardi family lost what had taken 98-years to build.

Bacardi already had already established operations in four other markets – the U.S., Mexico, Puerto Rico and the Bahamas – and the trademarks and the BACARDI yeast were safely out of Cuba before the revolutionary forces took control. Such forethought saved both the Company and BACARDI rum. The coveted strain of yeast continues to provide BACARDI rum its signature taste, mixability and unique balance today, as it has for 150 years, and remains under tight security.

International growth and success

Because of their foresight and quick action, what might have been a devastating loss for Bacardi actually enabled Bacardi to remain family-owned and regroup to become the third largest international spirits Company selling globally recognized and iconic brands and labels in more than 150 countries. BACARDI rum in turn earned the titles of the top-selling and most awarded rum in the world, as well as the world’s most awarded spirit with nearly 600 awards for taste, quality and innovation.

“Had we not taken such steps to protect our assets, we may not have established the footholds in other markets that helped propel BACARDI rum to the forefront of spirits industry. Those decisions by Bacardi executives more than five decades ago helped take the Company to new heights and strategically positioned to acquire an international portfolio of great-tasting spirits including GREY GOOSE, BOMBAY SAPPHIRE, DEWAR’S and MARTINI,” said Ed Shirley, President and CEO of family-owned Bacardi Limited, with its global headquarters in Bermuda.

Bacardi remains proud of its Cuban heritage and looks forward to a time when it can return and reinvest in its homeland and help Cuba move into the modern world. To learn more about Bacardi, visit www.BacardiLimited.com/150.

About Bacardi Limited

Bacardi Limited, the largest privately-held spirits Company in the world, produces and markets internationally-recognized spirits and wines. The Bacardi brand portfolio comprises more than 200 brands and labels, including BACARDI rum, the world’s favorite rum and most awarded spirit; GREY GOOSE vodka, the world’s leading super-premium vodka; DEWAR’S Blended Scotch whisky, the top-selling blended Scotch whisky in the U.S.; BOMBAY SAPPHIRE gin, the top-valued and fastest-growing premium gin in the world; MARTINI vermouth and sparkling wines, the world’s leading vermouth and the world’s favorite Italian sparkling wines; CAZADORES 100% blue agave tequila, the #1 premium tequila in Mexico and a top-selling premium tequila in the U.S.; ERISTOFF vodka, one of the fastest-growing vodka brands in the world; and other leading and emerging brands.

Founded in Santiago de Cuba on February 4, 1862, and family-owned for the past seven generations, Bacardi employs nearly 6000 people, manufactures its brands at 27 facilities in 16 markets on four continents, and sells in more than 150 countries. Bacardi Limited refers to the Bacardi group of companies, including Bacardi International Limited. www.BacardiLimited.com




SOURCE Bacardi Limited

Quick Update- Booze News You Can Use

  • Cazadores Extra Anejo? Wow, at $59.99 MSRP in Oregon you can’t getter a better extra anejo tequila for the price. Truly an outstanding product. Look for my review over at WhiskedFoodie.com next week!
  • Barry Crockett, Master Distiller at Midleton in Ireland (Midleton, Jameson, etc) will be in town for Portland Cocktail Week. Pretty cool. I had dinner in Ireland at the house Barry was born in. A pretty special experience with a very talented distiller.
  • Southland Whiskey Kitchen is about to make its debut this month. Don’t know what they have in store, but any place with Jarrod Tillery behind the bar is ok with me. The press release I have says house smoked bbq, southern fare, hand picked whiskies and a healthy crop of beer and wines. We’ll see. This concept is from the same people behind the two Matador restaurants (not the Matador bar on Burnside).

The Tasting Panel’s Double Gold Tour Hits Portland 10/30

Taste the best of the best! Read below for details


The Tasting Panel Magazine’s 6th Annual Tasting Panel DOUBLE GOLD Tour is returning to Portland!   Join us for this unique opportunity to taste a selection of Double Gold Winners from this year’s San Francisco International Wine Competition & The San Francisco World Spirits Competition. Come see what our panel of nationally recognized wine & spirit judges deemed worthy of an esteemed DOUBLE GOLD!
When:  Tuesday, October 30, 2012 1-4PM
Where: The Cleaners

The Mystery is Solved! Bowmore 54 unveiled!

Yesterday, Bowmore finally unveiled the whisky that they had been teasing us with for weeks. Bowmore 54, the oldest Bowmore expression ever released. Having tasted Glenfiddich 50, it would be great to get an opportunity to taste this dram as well, but this whisky is just a little out of my price range. Here is the full press release below.


Islay, Scotland (September 17, 2012) –Bowmore®, the first Islay Single Malt whisky, will release its oldest ever expression this October, the exceptionally rareBowmore 1957, 54 Years Old. Not only is this 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 marvel has been lying in wait in the finest oak for more than half a century in Bowmore’s legendary No. 1 Vaults, the oldest maturation warehouse in all of Scotland. With only12 bottles in existence in the world, Bowmore 1957 is the oldest and rarest ever Bowmore, ensuring that this will become one of the most sought-after bottlings of one of the world’s most collectible Single Malt Scotch Whiskies.Bottles No. 1 and No. 2 will be offered at a public auction at esteemed international auction house Bonhams in Edinburgh on Oct 10 and in New York City on Oct 28 with a minimum reserve set at £100,000 per bottle (approx. $155,000). All net proceeds from both sales will be donated to five Scottish charities.


Many generations have been the custodians of Bowmore 1957’s long journey from cask to bottle. Beginning in 1779 when Bowmore was established through to the present day, the distillery team has served as guardians of Bowmore’s whisky-making traditions and its inventory, safeguarding them so that future generations can continue to experience the unique spirit that is Bowmore. Bowmore 1957 was as much nurtured by the people as it was by its cask and the ancient distillery walls.


A collection of 1957 casks were bottled in 1995 but one in particular was held back because it was a bit more special, a bit 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. It was also closely watched to see how long the whisky could mature without losing Bowmore’s signature trait of a sweet/smoky balance. Says Morrison Bowmore’s Chief Blender Andrew Rankin, “Upon checking the whisky in early 2011, we knew it had reached perfection at 54 years of age. Bowmore 1957 withstood the test of time astoundingly well and is nothing short of brilliance in a glass.”


The Auction

Bowmore is considered one of the leading collectible Single Malts in the world. With Bowmore 1957 not only being the oldest Bowmore released but also the oldest Islay Single Malt ever released, the Bonhams’ auctions are certain to quicken the heartbeats of whisky collectors around the world. Auctions are set for Edinburgh on October 10(http://www.bonhams.com/auctions/19871/)and New York City on October 28 (http://www.bonhams.com/auctions/20459/)with bids accepted live in each location as well as live internet bidding. Inquiries regarding bidding can be directed tobids@bonhams.com.The minimum reserve set by Bonhams is £100,000 per bottle, the highest reserve ever set for a Single Malt Whisky. Says Martin Green, Bonhams’ Whisky Specialist, “We at Bonhams are very excited to offer at auction the rarest and oldest expression of Bowmore. This iconic bottling, the most mature spirit ever to come from Islay, has been watched over for 54 years and is in impeccable condition.”


The Charitable Donation

Morrison Bowmore Distillers, producers of Bowmore, have chosen to donate all net proceeds of both auctions to five Scottish charities that encompass a variety of worthy 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); andMARIE CURIE CANCER CARE (cancer care and research). Says Mike Keiller, Morrison Bowmore Distillers Chief Executive Officer, “The notion of having a cask from 1957 that can still produce something so glorious shows the acute attention to detail and care that we pride ourselves on at Morrison Bowmore. By taking some of the precious cargo from this cask to help the lives of so many across many different communities, we thought we should help Scottish charities with this rare piece of Scotch whisky history.”


The Unique Presentation

Bowmore has been distilling and perfecting its celebrated Single Malt on Islay since 1779, and while the size of its pot stills and capacity of the washbacks may have increased, the time-honored manner in which the company makes its whisky has not: Bowmore is one of the few distilleries that still turns its floor-malted barley by hand, checks the germinating barley by rolling it between finger and thumb and judges the “middle cut” of new made spirit by eye to determine the best liquid to fill the casks that will mature into well-aged Bowmore.


No attention to detail has been missed in making this precious spirit, and the same hand-crafted thoughtfulness has been applied to the vessel and presentation box that carries the rare Bowmore 1957. Each of the 12 bottles has been hand-blown and sculpted by two of the world’s foremostglass 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. The glass is inlaid with shimmering flecks of platinum, one of the rarest precious metals on earth. Adorning each bottle is a platinum neck collar, hand-engraved with the bottle number and spirit strength, and platinum stopper hand-crafted byHamilton & 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 acclaimedwoodworker Peter Toaig, using hand-selected pieces of Scottish Oak. View artisans’ videos here:http://www.bowmore.com/news/something-magical/


The Allocation Of 12 Bottles

Only 12 bottles of the rarest Bowmore 1957 have been created. Two of these bottles will be auctioned, two have been retained for the Morrison Bowmore archives and the remaining eight will be available for purchase by the public solely via the Bowmore Distillery on Islay. The retail price for Bowmore 1957 from the Visitor Centre will be £100,000 (approx. $155,000). Islay is the whisky-making mecca for many aficionados and those people who make the special journey to purchase Bowmore 1957 will be captivated by this magical island’s craggy coasts, windswept moors and friendly inhabitants. Eleven bottles are in 700ml, the one bottle auctioned in New York City is 750ml.


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.



Founded in 1779, Bowmore is the oldestDistillery 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.



Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world’s largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. The present company was formed by the merger in November 2001 of Bonhams & Brooks and Phillips Son & Neale. In August 2002, the company acquired Butterfields, the principal firm of auctioneers on the West Coast of America. Today, Bonhams offers more sales than any of its rivals, through two major salerooms in London: New Bond Street and Knightsbridge; and a further three in the UK regions and Scotland. Sales are also held in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Carmel, New York and Connecticut in the USA; and Germany, France, Monaco, Hong Kong and Australia. Bonhams has a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 25 countries offering sales advice and valuation services in 60 specialist areas. For a full listing of upcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments go towww.bonhams.com.


ABOUT BOWMORE(www.bowmore.com, Facebook www.facebook.com/bowmore; Twitter@Bowmore1779)

The award-winning Bowmore portfolio includes Bowmore Legend, 12 Year Old, 15 Year Old Darkest, 18 Year Old and 25 Year Old in addition to special limited-edition bottlings such as Bowmore Black, White, Gold and Bowmore 40 Year Old.  Bowmore is available nationwide in the U.S. and in more than 45 countries worldwide.  The Bowmore portfolio is imported to the U.S. by Campari America.

Bowmore is a tease

So today I get this cryptic message

This monthBowmore® Single Malt Scotch Whisky will announce a particularlyextraordinary and precious bottling. There are but a few distilleries that have had the honor of nurturing something sorare and we are extremely excited to shortly unveil it to our friends around the world.


And this video…



What do you think is coming? I can’t wait myself. I love Bowmore whisky.


I’m off to France now. See you all on the flipside. Follow me on twitter.com/AboutWhisky for the latest and greatest news and updates.