Cigar Aficionado

The Joy of Finishing Last

I could still taste the tangerine the next morning.

Eighteen hours had passed since I’d first tasted Bowmore Gold and the last tasting note was just getting finished on my palate. There are arenas where it’s best to come in last, and the world of hyperpremium Scotch whisky is one of them.

The place was the New York location of Charlie Palmer’s Aureole.

The occasion was an unveiling of the final act in Bowmore’s triology of releases of prize whisky kept from when Morrison Bowmore bought the Islay distillery in 1964.

The menu was I don’t remember.

I know the food was good because the chef was Charlie Palmer. But its memory has been overshadowed by a presence that will not be ignored. What still stands out in my mind a week later is the whisky and its exquisite tasting notes: fruits and nuts, spices and herbs, confections even, and, of course, the aforesaid tangerine.

My point—other than just to brag about being one of the few who has tasted this astounding whisky—is that spirits that have attained a heavenly tier—the kind you cash in your certificates of deposit to pay for—earn their keep with their epilogues. Be it whisky or brandy or Bourbon or rum, the best hang on for hours after you drink it to remind of how good they were or maybe morph into new flavors you hadn’t thought when they were on your tongue.

They should when they cost $6,250—which is the suggested retail price for each of the 701 bottles of Bowmore Gold available worldwide. (The triology of Bowmore Black, White and Gold is also going to be available at the Christie's New York spirits auction on November 14 and is expected to bring between $18,000 and $24,000.) Whether that is worth it is between you and your pocketbook, but there is no denying some spirits have achieved a plane of their own.

When it still tastes good the next day, you've probably encountered one.

Read my Drinks column in the Good Life Guide of the December issue of Cigar Aficionado to check out other new single malt releases, some at a similar level, others more affordable.

In the meantime, watch what Jamie MacKenzie of Bowmore has to say about the Gold.