Bowmore Claret, 56%

Price: $90 Issue: Summer 2000 Reviewer: John Hansell

Amber with orange and ruby hues. Aromas of Islay peat smoke, wine fruit, and background floral and spice notes. Flavors reveal more of what the aroma suggests-peat smoke, fruit, and floral/spice notes-with a balancing oak and subtle sea salt and seaweed. The peat smoke particularly comes in on the finish, lest one forgets where Bowmore hails from. There is no age statement on the label, but this whisky has been aged for 12 years in traditional bourbon and sherry barrels, and then finished off for 18 months in Bordeaux (Claret) wine casks. The wine fruit certainly is evident and, like the Glenmorangie Claret Wood Finish offered a year or so ago, will appeal to those with an open mind and willingness to accept new flavors in whisky. Purists will say it detracts from the distillery's character. I believe it's the first smoky whisky that attempts to marry these flavors with claret fruitiness. 480 bottles for U.S. 12,000 bottles for Travel Retail.