An evening of Islay, Bowmore Single Malt 12 – 25 yrs old

At the moment I´m sunning myself in summery Buenos Aires but before I left a wet and windy London, I spent an Evening on Islay, a single malt Scotch whisky tasting featuring the Scotch whisky of Bowmore at the Malmaison Hotel in Clerkenwell.

I do like single malts. I was introduced to them when I worked for Oddbins and since then, I´ve never looked back. I prefer the smoother, softer Scotch whiskys of Dufftown, Balvenie being one of my favourites but when aged, those smoky, peaty single malts can also find a place in my heart, or rather in my belly.

Bowmore belongs to that class of smoky peaty single malts. The Bowmore distillery was founded in 1779 and is the oldest distillery on the isle. They have been making whiskey on the same spot ever since and use the pure waters of the Laggan River which carry with it peaty notes, still hand turn their malted barlet and use the same Islay peat to fire up the malt drying kilns.  You could say they like to stick with tradition. The whiskys are ages in old sherry, bourbon, and claret casks which give them each a distinctive flavour and all the barrels rest in Vault No 1 which is below sea level.

Most people like to drink their single malts on their own or as an after dinner drink but Bowmore wants us to look again and consider single malt as a companion to dinner, not an afterthought. John Woodward, Executive Chef of Malmaison was tasked with matching the 12 and 15 yr olds with savoury food while the 18 and 25 year olds were matched with chocolate.

The 12 year old was served w ith smoked salmon that had been marinated in the whisky for 6 hrs. and the 18 yr old was served with a roast porchetta sandwich. The smoked salmon was a very good match, the whisky being quite smoky and lemony with a slight honeyed sweetness. Whisky and smoked salmon seemed to go best together. I spoke to one of the sous chefs later and he commented that he thought the salmon could have been marinated a lot longer. 36 hrs would have been optimal in his opinion.

Chocolate seemed to be the best match. The chocolate truffles were amazingly intense and paired with the 18 yr old, there was plenty of lush chocolate and sweet spice notes on the whiskey. The best though was the 25 yr old, matured in american bourbon and spanish sherry casks, it had intense sherry and stewed fruits on the nose with toffee and hazelnut flavours. I could have had this one on its own but it was served with a hunk of fudge! The only thing better would have been if the fudge had had walnuts in it but there was some mutterings about nut allergies or something along those lines….

Speaking to Lucy, one of the reps later, I wondered if they were going to start targetting female whisky drinkers as this event was suit heavy and she said as a matter of fact, they had plans in place to do more female friendly events. I would certainly recommend Bowmore and chocolate, a match made in heaven.

Malmaison and Bowmore are teaming up this month with special whiskey nites. Check out Malmaison’s website for more information. The perfect antidote for all that wet weather I hear London is currently enduring.


  1. ginandcrumpets /

    Bowmore is my absolutely favourite whisky – the 12 year old is my go to everyday whisky. And whisky and chocolate? Ain’t no better way to round off a good meal.

  2. Oh Denise, we are all missing you here, do come back home! Rainy London is waiting. Interestingly, I have that bottle opened by my bed (always keep a good bottle of whisky by my bed), and I am really enjoying that peatiness/smokey flavours in this whisky which is not usually the style I drink.

    Hope you are well!

    Luiz @ The London Foodie

  3. Great post. It was nice to meet you at the event. I’m jealous that I missed the fudge! 🙂

    • Great to meet you too! That fudge really was awesome with the 25 yr old, but then again, guess you can’t really go wrong with 25 yr old scotch 😀

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