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The process of making whisky is often romanticized as having a little bit of magic involved, and that might be true, but in reality there’s also a great deal of math required.
Proportions are crucial, from mashbill to fermentation to separating the distillate into heads, tails and hearts. The same precision is alsi applied to designing an automobile, so the recent collaboration between Scottish distillery Bowmore and British car company Aston Martin feels like a natural fit. The result is the new Masters’ Selection 21 Year Old, a single malt based on the concept of the “golden ratio.”
The creative minds behind this release are Bowmore master blender Ron Welsh and Aston Martin executive VP and chief creative officer Marek Reichman. According to Reichman, the golden ratio has been an inspiration for the design team at Aston Martin to create cars based on both form and function.
This time-honored mathematical ratio, which occurs when the ratio of two numbers is equal to the ratio of their sum to the larger number, can be found in nature, art, and architecture. If that seems a bit abstract in regards to cars and whisky, what it boils down to is this: The base whisky is a 21-year-old single malt aged in first-fill Pedro Ximenez and Oloroso sherry casks that makes up 61.8 percent of the blend. The remaining percentages are exact ratios of whisky that include some more than 35 years old, matured in ex-bourbon barrels, Pineau des Charentes barriques, white port barriques and second-fill Oloroso hogsheads. The peat level of the whisky is in line with the relatively tame character that this Islay distillery is known for, with some smoke and sweet butter greeting you on the nose. The palate opens up with orange, cherry, subtle campfire and some dark chocolate, with a slightly tannic finish that doesn’t become overly dry. Indeed, this is very different from the Bowmore core lineup, something that isn’t always the case with these special releases.
This is the fourth collaboration between Bowmore and Aston Martin (previous expressions were 10-, 15-, and 18-year-old whiskies), but the process used to blend this one really stands out. Ultimately, every whisky (aside from a single cask release) is a blend of different liquids with great attention paid to percentage and proportion to achieve just the right flavor. In that regard, this is really no different, but the inspiration and aesthetic behind this new Masters’ Selection does make for a good story.
What Our Score Means
- 100: Worth trading your first born for
- 95 – 99 In the Pantheon: A trophy for the cabinet
- 90 – 94 Great: An excited nod from friends when you pour them a dram
- 85 – 89 Very Good: Delicious enough to buy, but not quite special enough to chase on the secondary market
- 80 – 84 Good: More of your everyday drinker, solid and reliable
- Below 80 It’s alright: Honestly, we probably won’t waste your time and ours with this
Every week Jonah Flicker tastes the most buzzworthy and interesting whiskeys in the world. Check back each Friday for his latest review.