Whisky Review: Bowmore 30 Year Old

, | April 8, 2021

Editor’s Note: This whisky was provided to us as a review sample by Bowmore (Beam-Suntory). This in no way, per our editorial policiesinfluenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the buy link towards the bottom of this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.

Talk about a whisky that’s a feast for the senses!  From the first glance at the thoughtful and meaningful packaging of the Bowmore annual 30 year old, you can’t help but marvel at how much rich tradition and history is presented.  They have obviously heard the adage ‘you eat with your eyes first’ and leaned on their inextricable connection to the land and sea to create the stunning packaging of driftwood and sea glass.  The next thing you notice is their storied history, represented by the dates and numbers on the box and bottle, and their place in the timeline of modern human advancement.

At the same time the distillery was being founded in 1779, Captain James Cook was taking his final vacation to Hawaii, America was in the middle of the revolutionary war, and another revolution (of the industrial kind) was about to catapult humanity into the infancy of our modern times.

In 1989, when this expression was being barreled for its 30 year nap, the Berlin Wall was tumbling down, Taylor Swift was born, and Tim Berners-Lee would invent the internet, propelling human kind forward into the very meta reality of our current lives being controlled by ones and zeros.

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Bowmore, this seminal distillery in a tiny town off the coast of Scotland, has certainly witnessed some momentous occasions on that timeline.  Something they have figured out in that time is how to commemorate. The impetus behind the inaugural release of their annual 30 year old is to celebrate their rich, fruity, smoky style as well as a celebration of their terrain.  Now that we have a sense of the history behind the bottle, lets see what other senses this drink can tickle.

Bowmore 30 Year Old

Bowmore 30 Year Old (image via Beam-Suntory)

Tasting Notes: Bowmore Islay Annual 30 Year Release

Vital Stats:  Cask strength at 95.6 proof (45% ABV) Distilled in 1989 in Sherry Hogshead and Bourbon Barrels, matured in Bowmore No. 1 vault.  2 casks selected, 2,580 bottles available globally, MSRP $2,500

Appearance:  Deep golden hues give it a bright and rich presentation that sets up nicely in the glass

Nose:  Banana dances with leather and tobacco, leading to hints of toffee

Palate:  Balanced Guava and honey compliment a subtle smoke.  Plenty of texture and a heady quality not often associated with a cask strength

The Takeaway


The anticipation of tasting this particular dram was coupled with the expectation that this would be an exceptional whiskey. I am happy to report it met and exceeded. It’s almost like it’s experienced rather than just simply imbibed. Should you ever find yourself in a position to sensibly partake, do your senses a favor and become a part of history.

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Jason Marshall

Jason Marshall has spent his career as a bartender advocate and mentor , providing an opportunity for the best new faces and ideas to flourish. The process has given him opportunities to stretch creatively, develop wonderful people who branched out to their own passions, and host cocktail competitions with a...