The last couple of years have seen a branding alliance forged between Islay institution Bowmore and the automotive landmark Aston Martin.
The marketing and crafting collaboration has seen a global travel retail (“GTR”) range of age statement releases: a 10yo (twinned with the Aston Martin TT2), a 15yo (twinned with the Aston Martin V8 1972), and an 18yo (twinned with the Aston Martin DBR 1952), along with some pretty special one-offs (Rare Find, ARC 52), and the Masters Selection which we are exploring here.
This is the second release in the Masters’ Selection Series, and follows on from their 21 Year Old bottling, which launched in November 2021. The 22 Year Old has been aged in a combination of American Oak hogsheads and Sherry butts and has been bottled 51.5% ABV. The 70cl bottle is available at RRP £390.
The nose immediately reminds me of a niche memory and it is all the best bits from a bowl of Kellogg’s Just Right cereal – papaya, raisin, and oats. There’s a slightly sweet perfumed fruit salad sweet note to it too. Then comes in some cinnamon and ginger with a slightly sweet and sour smoky sensation (unintentionally mimicking TheWhiskyWire’s all-time alluring alliteration there) Well aged Islay traits courtesy of some soft wood smoke, a little seaside salinity, and a sort of musky funk behind it – that distinct warehouse dunnage / wet wood smell.
A good coating mouthfeel with a citrusy lemon zest that cuts right through and shows that there is still life in the old spirit yet. Tropical fruits in there (seemingly their signature profiles beneath the smoke) with pineapple, apricots, and orange. Good rich chocolate flavours appear and melt away (as chocolates tend to do…) with some proper honeycomb left behind. Cinnamon and ginger spice amplify with mace added for good measure.
Good heat and bite to this one. Charcoal smoke. Drying with a final marmalade hit.
This is possibly the most evocative and maybe the most Bowmore-y -Bowmore that I have drank. It has all of their classic tasting notes but they are tendered well with the peat taking enough of a step back (but not too far) to let their other signature flavours shine.
Despite being 22 years of age, this remains fresh and vibrant with fruity flavours. The peat smoke is there but is receding and I always find it mad that with time even the most heavily peated of malts will return to their oatty, gristy, malted barley flavours and smells.
Recently Bowmore posted a nicely made video to celebrate 30 years in the industry and pay a fond farewell to master blender Ron Welsh. Whilst talking about the uniqueness of Barrel influences and the craft of whisky making, he is pictured holding a bottle of this 22yo Master’s Selection. It could have been any Bowmore – a core range one to drive the message home about what they make. But it was this one (and it’s 21yo predecessor). Shrewd additional marketing or a recent favourite? Either way, it is very telling.
At £390 a bottle, this is one that I will unfortunately not be purchasing, but it does seem to sit within the right ball park of malts that age (sadly).
Sample disclosure: This sample and the beer were received as part of a Bowmore Tweet Tasting event run by The Whisky Wire. All notes are intended as an honest, fair, and independent review of the whisky and beer, and not as a promotion. Please drink responsibly. Please drink wisely.