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Bowmore Independent Bottlings you must try

independent bottlers

February 22, 2024

Discover more about Bowmore whiskies by exploring bottlings from independent bottlers

Bowmore Distillery is the oldest licensed distillery on Islay, dating back to 1816. However, like many distilleries in Scotland, its origins actually trace back to 1779, making it not only the oldest distillery on Islay but also one of the oldest in the entire country.

Since its foundation, nestled along the shores of Loch Indaal, Bowmore Distillery has crafted whiskies cherished by enthusiasts worldwide. Renowned for its rich, lightly peated yet sweet flavour profile, Bowmore whiskies often boast fruity notes intertwined with spices. If you want to taste some Bowmore whisky at its finest, independent bottlers are a good place to start. If this is not reason enough to try some IB bottlings, Bowmore whiskies exhibit unique nuances depending on the era of their production. Indeed, independent bottlers have played a crucial role in showcasing the distillery’s diverse expressions and evolving flavours throughout the decades. 

In this article, you will find some recommendations for Bowmore Independent bottlings divided by labels. Enjoy it! (Maybe with a Bowmore dram!).

Sestante

We have already talked extensively about Sestante as an independent label. But to recap, the company is renowned for offering two versions of the same whisky: one at cask strength and the other at 40% ABV, both sourced from a single cask. Particularly notable among Sestante’s selections are Islay whiskies, including some rare releases. Several years after Mainardi, the founder, opened Sestante—a bar in Parma—he ventured into independent bottlings, starting with two Bowmore expressions that have since achieved legendary status: a 14-year-old distilled in 1971 and a 20-year-old distilled in 1965, which Mainardi claimed Ian Morrison referred to as the finest Bowmore he’d ever tasted.

Other Sestante bottlings of Bowmore have also made their mark in whisky history, notably the Crest Label releases, named for the distinctive shape of their labels.

These are the bottles that we at the MNIW team would recommend you taste if you had a chance. 

Bowmore Sestante 1971

Category: Single Malt
Distillery: Bowmore
Label: Crest
Bottler: Sestante
Distilled: 1971
Stated Age: 18 years old
Cask Type: Sherry Wood
Strength: 57.1 % Vol.

This 1971 whisky offers a well-rounded profile. Right away, you’ll notice a peaty smokiness intertwined with subtle tropical fruit notes and hints of sherry on the nose. On the palate, there’s a discernible presence of pepper and spices, contributing to its broad and intricate character. It’s not your typical salty Bowmore, but it’s quite outstanding.

Of this bottling, there is also a 1971 version at  40% ABV, which we also loved by the way. 

Bowmore Sestante 14 years old

Category: Single Malt
Distillery: Bowmore
Label: Crest
Bottler: Sestante
Stated Age: 14 years old
Strength: 40.0 % Vol.

This whisky was probably distilled in the late 1970s. On the nose, it presents an intensely mineral character, accompanied by subtle hints of oil and coal. There are also faint undertones of grass and cider apples. It delivers a robust initial impression with prominent smoky, sooty, and salty notes upon tasting. There are also light touches of tangerines and pepper. The finish is brief yet clean, with subtle sweet notes reminiscent of 1980s distillation, albeit somewhat subdued.

Samaroli

Now, let’s move on to another independent label. This time we are talking about Samaroli. As we already mentioned in one of our previous articles, Samaroli has an innovative approach for the time – it was the 1980s – when it comes to transparency to lay the foundations for a stronger relationship with the consumers. Indeed, it was one of the first independent labels that put all the information about the whisky on the back of the bottle, including cask type, tasting notes and stories about the whisky. 

The Samaroli Flowers series was extremely popular. Among those bottles, the Bowmore 1966 Bouquet was one of the most sought out by the collectors. Some even consider it one of the best whiskies ever bottled!

But now let’s see some of our favourite Bowmore bottles from Samaroli!

Bowmore Samaroli Bouquet 1966

Category: Single Malt
Distillery: Bowmore
Bottler: Samaroli
Bottling serie: Bouquet
Distilled:1966
Bottled: 1984
Strength: 53.0 % Vol.

Of course, we couldn’t begin our list without mentioning the Flowers 1966! This whisky opens with a distinctly fruity character, though it’s not as heavily tropical as one might expect from bottles of the 1960s. It boasts a complex profile, featuring notes of grapefruit and pears, before evolving into a more maritime and smoky flavour profile, accented by herbal and floral undertones.

It’s truly a complex whisky that defies easy description in the most delightful way possible. Rest assured, it’s guaranteed to astonish you with its diverse array of flavours with every sip you take!

Bowmore Samaroli 1975

Category: Single Malt
Distillery: Bowmore
Bottler: Samaroli
Distilled: 1975
Bottled: 1990
Strength: 57.0 % Vol.

This is perhaps one of the most maritime Bowmore. And it’s evident right from the nose.

Upon first whiff, you’re greeted with aromas of seaweed and iodine intertwined with peat and smoked fish. On the palate, it’s rich and oily, with hints of fruitiness and sweet syrup adding complexity.

Bowmore Samaroli 1984

Category: Single Malt
Distillery: Bowmore
Bottler: Samaroli
Distilled: 1984
Bottled: 2000
Cask Type: Sherry Fino Puncheon
Strength: 45.0 % Vol.

This is a quite controversial bottle. You either love it or hate it, there’s no in-between. 

At the nose, it’s extremely sulfureous, with a penetrating aroma of rotting eggs. But give it a little time, and finer aromas will emerge like eggnog and raisins.

On the palate, it initially presents a soapy quality before transitioning to a sweeter profile. There’s a pronounced presence of dates, and abundant peat smoke, along with hints of almonds, walnuts, and cinnamon. Additionally, floral and flowery notes add complexity. Surprisingly, the sulfur detected on the nose takes a backseat and is more subdued.

Overall, it’s a curious blend of aromas and flavours that linger with a sour memory, characterized by earthy mushrooms and lingering sulfur notes.

Intertrade

While Intertrade is often referred to as a bottler, it was more accurately an importer. 

It was 1970, and Nadi Fiori opened the Taverna degli Artisti restaurant in Rimini. His frequent visits to Scotland led to a friendship with George Urquhart of Gordon & MacPhail. As Fiori’s relationship with Gordon & MacPhail grew, so did the whisky selection at Taverna degli Artisti.

In 1984, Fiori established Intertrade as a spirits importer. The first Intertrade bottlings debuted the following year and continued until 1989. Afterwards, Fiori continued to import whiskies through his restaurant, but they were bottled under Turatello Import.

The whiskies selected from Gordon & MacPhail were renowned for their exceptional quality, featuring many rare non-chill-filtered, cask-strength expressions typical of 1960s distilleries. Here is one of our favourites from Bowmore Distillery!

Bowmore 20 years old 1965

Category: Single Malt
Distillery: Bowmore
Bottler: Intertrade
Distilled: 1965
Bottled: 1985
Stated Age: 20 years old
Cask Type: Sherry Casks
Strength: 48.5 % Vol.

Initially, the nose doesn’t reflect the extravagant tropical character often associated with mid-1960s Bowmores. Instead, it’s surprisingly subdued, with hints of soot, grass, and rhubarb. However, this subtlety gives way to the emergence and gradual intensification of passion fruits and mangoes, accompanied by nuances of blood oranges, cardamom, leather, and old books. 

On the palate, it aligns with the typical style of mid-1960s Bowmores, offering abundant citrus and tropical fruit flavours, underscored by a mild smokiness and a gently drying spiciness reminiscent of cinnamon and nutmeg. 

Signatory

Signatory Scotch is widely regarded as one of the most discerning independent bottlers of Scotch whisky globally. They meticulously source malts from top distilleries across Scotland, handpicking the best single batches and exclusively bottling the finest casks from within those batches. This results in what they refer to as a “single, single, single malt,” an exceptionally exclusive product. 

This means that Signatory carefully selects specific distillations or batches from various independent distilleries. Each barrel is individually tasted, and only the highest-quality casks within each batch are chosen for bottling. Furthermore, Signatory bottles only one cask at a time.

Here’s a list of our favourite Bowmore bottlings!

Bowmore 1968 Signatory Millenium Edition

Category: Single Malt
Distillery: Bowmore
Bottler: Signatory Vintage 
Bottling Series: Millennium Edition
Distilled: 08/10/1968
Bottled: 04/11/1999
Stated Age: 31 years old
Cask Type: Oak Cask
Strength: 43.0 % Vol.

This whisky has some highly noticeable fruit notes, almost cooked into rich jams, accented by a touch of honey. 

On the palate, there is an Interestingly subtle presence of tea-like oak, tangerines, mangos, passion fruit, and notes of tea. The finish is medium in length, slightly iodine.

Overall, the quality of this complex whisky remains exceptional.

Bowmore 1972 Signatory 

Category: Single Malt
Distillery: Bowmore
Bottler: Signatory Vintage 
Bottling Series: 30th Anniversary
Distilled: 21/06/1972
Bottled: 08/06/2018
Stated Age: 45 years old
Cask Type: Refill Sherry Butt
Strength: 46.7 % Vol.

This bottle is a great opportunity to actually taste how some of the finest Bowmore whisky has aged over the years. The aroma is gentle, with earthy, and leathery, reminiscent of old peat embers, complemented by sweet raisins and subtle hints of tropical elements. You’ll also detect nuances of clove, aniseed, and cinnamon. Additionally, there are more oily qualities, along with faint traces of smoke and coastal hints. 

Overall, the richness and complexity of this whisky is superb. The peat seems to have transformed into an array of herbs and spices, while the tropical fruits emerge towards the back palate. The finish is long and lingering, with notes of spices and old leather.

Cadenhead

Cadenhead is probably the oldest independent whisky bottler active today. Established in 1842 by William Cadenhead, the company has a rich history in the whisky industry. In the 1970s, Cadenhead came under the ownership of W. & A. Mitchell, an independent company that also owns Springbank Distillery. As a result, the headquarters were relocated to Campbeltown, where they now share extensive warehouses with Springbank.

What sets Cadenhead apart is its pioneering spirit. At a time when most distilleries sold their whisky in barrels to blenders, William Cadenhead was the first to bottle single malt whisky, nearly a century before it became a common practice.

Each bottling by Cadenhead is strictly non-coloured and not chill-filtered, maintaining the integrity and authenticity of the whisky. Furthermore, the company is known for its wide variety of expressions, offering whisky enthusiasts a diverse range of options to explore.

Now, let’s delve into our favourite bottlings from Bowmore!

Bowmore 1992 Cadenhead’s

Category: Single Malt
Distillery: Bowmore
Bottler: Cadenhead’s
Bottling series: Authentic Collection
Distilled: 1992
Bottled: 01.2015
Stated Age: 22 years old
Cask Type: Bourbon Hogshead
Strength: 50.8 % Vol.

Overall, this expression offers a unique experience depending if you are tasting it neat or adding some drops of water. 

On the nose, it opens with an intriguing combination of brine and smoke. Adding water reveals additional layers, with touches of fresh nuts and oak. As soon as you taste it, the oak flavour becomes pretty noticeable and then it quickly evolves into a sharper, zestier profile. Adding water brings forth a burst of fruity flavours, each infused with hints of mint. 

Bowmore 2002 Cadenhead’s 

Category: Single Malt
Distillery: Bowmore
Bottler: Cadenhead’s 
Bottling Series: Single Cask
Distilled: 2002
Bottled: 2019
Stated Age: 17 years old
Cask Type: Bourbon Hogshead
Strength: 53.6 % Vol.

This is one of those quite surprising “I didn’t expect that” Bowmore. And that’s why it is pretty interesting and we wanted to add this one to our list. On the nose, there’s an initial burst of vanilla and coconut, accompanied by hints of soy sauce and seawater.

On the palate, you’re greeted with intense flavours of smoked seawater, spearmint, and black pepper. With a dash of water, additional layers emerge, including lime, citrons and oyster juice. 

In Conclusion

As you saw, exploring Bowmore Whiskies through independent bottlers offers a fascinating journey into the distillery’s diverse expressions and evolving flavours over the years. From legendary releases like the Bowmore Samaroli Bouquet 1966 to lesser-known gems like the Bowmore 2002 Cadenhead’s, each bottling encapsulates a unique story and flavour profile.

What are you waiting for then? Try some Bowmore independent bottlings and let us know!

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