The Bowmore 17 Year Old White Sands, 43% abv, dropped like miraculous manna from heaven, by which I mean, Stephen put a generous dollop in a small bottle, and convinced the Malt Fairy to deliver it to us. Selah! What’s that, John? You want me to actually review it? Oh, sorry! The nose opens with a sherry fino note, even though it was aged in a first-fill bourbon cask. (I told you this is a miraculous whisky!) It’s got the feel of a much-played, much-sweatily-danced to song at a disco—a disco inside a large sauna (or maybe a large sauna inside of a disco, which would be worse). John got also starfruit held in the grip of a four-limbed starfish. John! It’s sea star, not starfish! Get your oceanographic nomenclature right! Finally, we got also pine needles floating on the surface of a backyard pool, unkempt after a long summer of neglect.
The mouth brings the smoke the way a professional wrestler brings the pain. Which is to say, the smoke is there—like sniffing a neckerchief used to snuff out a beeswax candle—and while an amateur would be hurt by it, a wily professional knows how to savor it in a complementary fashion. The mouth reignites the ligneous wood, bituminous coal, and igneous rock flavors that make a Bowmore so distinctive. Then, the long toffee note at the back of the mouth, inexorably evoking the treacly, syrupy, sweet sassy molassesy Bowmore note.
A classic Bowmore: first, the charcoal filters from the aquaria of the Czarina; next, an astringency born of turpentine (those pine needles again), finally followed by a well-used alderwood waterslide being awkwardly cavorted upon by a cete of badgers cosplaying as otters on Mustelid Day. Because there were more treasures to savor, we got also wet, wooden-soled mucking boots trampling honeycombs drenched in pink grapefruit juice on a jumbled mass of ash skewers left over on the floor from an impromptu game of Pick Up Sticks.
On the scale of classic songs finding new life after unexpected exposure–
The Bowmore 17 Year Old White Sands, travel retail exclusive, is the now-indelible reawakening of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” after it appeared in the opening scene of Wayne’s World–Classic. Sure, we could also have gone with Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” after it appeared over the series-ending credits for The Sopranos, or to show how edgy we are (circa autumn of 2020), we could have chosen Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams,” after it exploded on Tik Tok. But a proper classic is properly classical, and Wayne’s World willfully worshipped classic rock and roll, reminding us the past persists into the present: “Bohemian Rhapsody” will always be with us.