Bowmore 1989 16 Year Old

Ending the week with an old school Bowmore, not something we often get the chance to try. 

Bowmore 1989 16 Year Old

Region: Islay

ABV: 51.8%

Price: £300.00 (approx auction price)

Not a lot of detail on this one, but we do know it is a vatting of 134 casks of 1989 vintage Bowmore, with most of the casks being ex-bourbon.


Initially, the nose offers a mellow peat accompanied by buttercream frosting, seaweed, tarry ropes, sugar cubes, and wet wood. Additionally, there are hints of varnished wardrobes, daisies, freshly sawn wood, a touch of liquorice, and honey. The aroma is very inviting, showcasing an excellent balance between the alcohol and the cask.


The palate has creamy vanilla, peanut brittle, complemented by a little dark chocolate and sour apple. The smoke is really well integrated, ashy, and works really well with the sweeter bourbon cask flavours. The mouthfeel is is nice and creamy. There’s also custard doughnuts, with candy corn, sponge fingers and smoked almonds. The finish lingers for a long time, with mellow peat and a pleasant sweetness.

Nose (with water)

The reduced nose hasn’t changed too much, there a little more nuttiness, some walnuts and milk chocolate, along with light toffee brittle and salty pebble aromas appearing too.

Palate (with water)

With reduction, the palate reveals more pronounced citrus notes, featuring plenty of BBQ lemon, white pepper, and sugar-coated pineapple. Despite these changes, it retains its creamy mouthfeel and the finish remains satisfyingly long.


A great example of what Bowmore distillery could produce with just simple bourbon casks and time. We didn’t get too much of the “soapy 80’s Bowmore”, but what we did get was delicious. Give these historical Bowmore’s a try if you get the chance, you won’t be disappointed.

Score: 8/10


 In terms of value, this whisky is now only available at auction or through a few retailers, often at significantly inflated prices. Ultimately, it's up to each individual to decide whether the cost is worth experiencing this 'old-school' style of Bowmore.

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  • 10 - Perfection. One in a million
  • 9 - Outstanding. Exceptional whisky.
  • 8 - Great. Would seek this out.
  • 7 - Good. Quality whisky.
  • 6 - Above average. Happy to have a dram.
  • 5 - Average. Drinkable whisky.
  • 4 - Below average. Passable.
  • 3 - Flawed. Noticeable negatives.
  • 2 - Defective. Significant faults.
  • 1 - Offensive. Pour it out.

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