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There can be few dooyoo ops I've looked forward more to writing. As I sit here, more than anticipating the words flowing from my fingertips, I am anticipating the peat-smoked liquid gold pouring from the neck of the bottle, which shapes itself sinuously into the likeness of one of the distillery chimneys.... The smell of the peat smoke and the sea are in my nostrils, seagulls wheel overhead and waves gently lap the shore. The sky soars blue above my head and the sun shines warm in the gentle breeze. At the top of the Main Street stands the circular church where the devil has no corners to hide in, while down here by the bay lies the birthplace of this molten golden peat and barley. This is Bowmore. The experience begins before you even see the bottle. Encased in a tall white tube embossed with gold and bearing a picture of the distillery is the bottle itself. Only something very special could lie inside. Shapely and surprisingly sensuous, the bottle curves from base to neck...itself embossed with gold and with the most beautiful gold lettering, it also bears a coloured picture of the source of the liquid within. At this point in the op, I am going to uncork the bottle, releasing the scents I remember so well. I may be sitting in my house which is nearer to France than Scotland, but the minute the bottle is uncorked this is Islay. Actually writing this opinion has been even more fulfilling than I anticipated as I thought I'd finished the Bowmore long ago and only on opening the smooth white casing did I discover that a good couple of drams was hidden within. A treasure indeed! As the cork is eased out, I savour the familiar smell of the peatsmoke and the sea. The glass I have standing prepared to receive it is created specially for Bowmore whisky and sold by the distillery in its gift shop. It is perhaps the most commercially developed of the Islay distilleries but far from being tacky, the glass is beautiful to look at and
shaped to allow the scents to be fully inhaled and appreciated. The Bowmore crest was once etched on this glass in gold, however use has left it familiarly worn. This is a strong, rich, beautiful whisky. It takes your breath while warming you with a comforting but powerful glow. You can taste the wonderful smoky peaty barley and I find it impossible to imagine a whisky more imbued with the characteristics of its place of origin. Visit the Bowmore distillery and you will see and smell the peatsmoke rising through the floors of barley, view the rounded polished copper stills and taste the most powerfully aged spirits from wooden casks kept under lock and key for decades. This is real whisky. Nothing else comes close to the taste and awesome all-encompassing flavour of this unique spirit. Don't drink it with water or anything else. This has to be savoured in full and never rushed any more than the gentle pace of Inner Hebridean life is rushed. Bowmore whisky speaks to me of wild and windy peatbogs, of winds whipping across Loch Indaal, it conjures up gentle peaty streams and water which comes out of the taps brown but tastes better than the clear clean water from my English tap. It cries with the seagulls and dances with the history of Islay. White cottages and heather covered hills are here, people weather beaten and strong, and blue skies and the purest unspoilt beaches. Islay holds history and happiness for me. This magical spirit I'm drinking now was new when I was last there. It is of the air I breathed and the ground I walked on. It is Islay itself.
40% volume single malt Scotch