17 September 2012 – Source: Press release
Bowmore®, the first Islay Single Malt whisky, will release its oldest ever expression this October, the exceptionally rare Bowmore 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 only 12 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, 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 just 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.”
Bowmore 1957: 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 to bids(at)bonhams(dot)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.”
Bowmore 1957: 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); and MARIE 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.”
Bowmore 1957: 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 foremost glass 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 by Hamilton & 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 acclaimed woodworker Peter Toaig, using hand-selected pieces of Scottish Oak. View artisans’ videos here: http://www.bowmore.com/news/something-magical/
Bowmore 1957: 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.
Bowmore 1957: The Cask Maturation And Tasting Notes
This 54-year-old Bowmore 1957 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.
THE BOWMORE DISTILLERY
Founded in 1779, Bowmore is the oldest Distillery on Islay. Islay malts are famous for their characteristic smokiness and Bowmore is no exception. Bowmore carefully smokesits 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 to http://www.bonhams.com.
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/USA: Manuela Savona, Savona Communications, 917.969.1275, manuela(at)savonacommunications(dot)com
Bowmore/UK: DK Cheung, Margaret PR, +44 (0)20 7033 6868, dk(at)margaretlondon(dot)com
Bonhams: Andrew Currie, +44 (0)20 7468 5871, andrew.currie(at)bonhams(dot)com or press(at)bonhams(dot)com