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If you are a legendary whisky, then a legendary whisky cannot be the thing of legends, correct? Maybe I could say it this way… If you yourself are the object of the legend, then you are the only one to say whether or not the details of the account are true.

Philosophers have considered this, I’m sure. In fact, if I remember correctly, Tolkien uses Gandalf’s voice to ponder this question in one of the Lord of the Rings volumes. I don’t remember which, so I’ll need to seek it out. Nevertheless, there is an impression in my mind of Gandalf the Grey saying essentially that what the rag-tag band of warriors was seeking to accomplish at the moment would eventually be remembered in legend, perhaps more grandiose in the character of the participants and more vast in the impossibility of the dangers — but neither would change the legendary nature of the quest overall. The participants of the legend would be the authority to discern the elements of the account.

I received this bottle of Bowmore Legend as a gift from a fellow whisky aficionado. In his words, “The Bowmore is second to Ardbeg.” He must be a first-hand participant in the legend to speak so discerningly regarding this whisky. He gave me a legend, but promptly pointed out that its title is a reflection of truth, but not necessarily the actual truth.

The nose of this whisky played a strange game. The peat smoke was immediate — gently rising, becoming fuller with each passing moment. I liked it. But while seeking out the legendary details, I could only figure vanilla and citrus… and strangely they had a stale character. I suppose the only way to describe it would be to say it was like a long-opened vile of vanilla extract sitting next to a failing lemon in the hot sun. Not necessarily unpleasant, just strange.

The palate was salty, oaky, peaty, and spicy — as would be a piece of driftwood broken free from a sinking ship carrying a cargo of peat bricks and pepper. Again, not necessarily unpleasant, just strange. (In fact, if I could make a recommendation, on Christmas Day I consumed a piece of coconut cream pie right after a sip of this whisky, and surprisingly, they worked quite well together.)

The finish was long, and I sensed something sweet in the parting. After a second dram, I discerned a caramel apple, but again, it was a strange staleness, as if its sugary vitality had dried up. Not necessarily unpleasant, just strange.

And so, as I began, I’d offer that the folks at Bowmore may be the only ones who truly know what makes this whisky legendary, and I’d conclude with a kindly “thank you” to my good friend for the gift. I hope the review doesn’t give the impression that I did not like the whisky. I did. But I will also say, as did he, that it is indeed second to Ardbeg.