Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

At $280 a shot, Scotch reserved for connoisseurs

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HIGH-end scotch drink­ers are scrambling to get on Santa’s "nice" list after a pair of rare $3,850 bottles — taxes not included — hit liquor store shelves Friday.

  The 750-ml bottles of Black Bowmore Islay single malt whisky carry the most expen­sive price tag for booze in the province’s history, according toGaryDawyeuk,product ambassador for Manitoba Li­quor Marts.

  "Nothing is higher," he said, noting the total cost, including taxes, will ring in at $4,500.

  The famed Bowmore D is­tillery on the Scottish island of Islay produced a limited edition of just 827 bottles of Black Bowmore. Only 12 con­taining the liquid, which was distilled in November 1964, bottled 42 years later and has an alcohol content of 40.5 per cent, were distributed in Can­ada. Six went to Alberta and four were delivered to British Columbia. All but one of them have already sold. No bottles of Black Bowmore were made available to Eastern Canada.

  Dawyeuk said he doesn’t be­lieve the price tag w ill scare away true connoisseurs.

  "It’s a prestigious drink. People who like high-end lux­ury drinks would be attracted to the fact it’s unique.

  "You have to understand the single-malt connoisseur. A lot of them understand the indi­vidual characteristics these single malts offer," he said.

  The bulk of single-malt scotchsoldinManitobare­tails for between $ 40 and $115 a bottle. For example, a 12-year-old b ottle of Glen Fiddich is at the low end of the scale while a 16-year-old bottleofLagavulinisatthe high end.

  Billy Casselman, province manager for Saverio Schiralli Agencies Ltd., which repre­sents the Bowmore line in Canada, said every once in a while a distiller will set out to produce a special "expres­sion" for serious fans of sin­gle -malt scotch.

  This isn’t the first time Cas­sel man has brought in a prod­uct that would require most people to visit their banker before buying it. I n 2001, he secured a rare bottle of 1957 Morrison Bowmore Single Malt Scotch Whisky that sold for $3,500 — or $225 a shot.

  Scott Strizic, product con­sultant at the Bunn’s Creek liquor store on Henderson Highway, expressed interest in showcasing one of the Bow­more bottles after talking to Casselman earlier this year.

  "We decided it would be a very good fit for our store. The clientele in the area is a little more geared towards higher­end products," he said.

  The second bottle is on dis­play at the Grant Park Shop­ping Centre liquor store.

  Strizic said he’s already had a couple of people press their noses up to the d isplay case housing the bottle and ex­press interest i n purchasing it. ( Neither bottle can be of­ficially sold until Monday but Strizic said ownership can be guaranteed with a significant down payment.) "I definitely foresee sell­ing the Bowmore bottle this Christmas season. Bowmore is a big name and well recog­nized," he said.

  Strizic said such an ex­­clusive beverage should be drunk "neat" — that is, w ith­out ice — from a rocks glass.

  "You’d have a small quantity of it on those really special occasions," he said.

 geoff.kirbyson@freepress.mb.ca

Tasting notes

* Almost ebony in colour, with incredible aromas of exotic fruits, ginger and cinnamon.

* The palate is rewarded with hints of ripe mango, toffee and dark chocolate with the faintest hint of the smokey Bowmore signature.

* The finish is luxurious, creamy and warm.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 13, 2008 A5

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