1993 is a special year for Bowmore. After being taken over by Suntory, the Japanese decided to clean the distillery thoroughly and have a few things sorted. The distillery was running at a much slower pace, with doubled fermentation times and slower distillation. Few casks were filled that year and at this moment not a single cask remains on Islay. We’ve seen a couple of indy 1993 releases recently but it may be an extinct vintage really soon.
We’ll be comparing three of these Bowmores, actually four of them as I also dug up a previously reviewed Bowmore 1993 Perfect Dram IV for comparison.
Bowmore 17 yo 1993 (54,6%, Whisky Agency 2010, Perfect Dram VII, 226 btl.)
Nose: dry and mineral with moderate peat. Only after 15 minutes, it gets sweeter, rounder and even slightly tropically fruity (which is a common thing for all four and part of the 1993 magic). The 59,9% version shows more vanilla (really nice) and warmer notes. It seems more fruity as well. This 54,6% version is slightly more subdued with a papery element. A tad more briney and austere as well I would say. Still quite similar. Both have a faint floral touch as well.
Mouth: punchy with a nice balance between bold peat and fruit, this time slightly sharper / citric fruits (lemon zest, white grapefruit). Bittersweet, slightly leafy, and growing herbal and salty in the aftertaste, just like the other one. A little tarry.
Finish: peaty with a pinch of salt. A bit more gentle than its predecessor and returning to its fruity side.
Although the differences are subtle, I prefer the 16yo at 59,9% for being more complex, warmer and fruitier at the same time. Both versions seem to have slightly less fruit and more herbal notes than the ones that are coming up. Around € 100 (sold out).
I’ve noticed The Whisky Agency also has a Bowmore 1993 in their
Private Stock series, which is usually reserved for exceptional drams. Could that be the ultimate 1993? Although I’ve never seen it in stores, it makes me curious… Has anyone tried it?