Bowmore 'Bicentenary cask strength' (98.8°proof /56.2%, OB for Fecchio & Frassa, Italy, cubic bottle, bottled 1979) An extremely rare version of the famous ‘1964 Bicentenary’, bottled for the Italian market at cask strength instead of 43% - and in an unusual cubic bottle. This time it’s rather a ‘15+30’ Bowmore. Colour: gold. Nose: rather less impressive than the 1956, but that should come from the higher strength. Notes of verbena and chocolate, kumquats and peat smoke. Actually, maybe we should have tried this one before the 1956, but I’m sure water will help mucho mucho. With water: amazing how it changed. Much peatier, globally phenolic, grassy, tarry, meaty (game), even resinous… Certainly different from all ‘low strength’ versions of the Bicentenary, and certainly peatier and ‘wilder’, even if the markers do show up after a moment (balsamico, honeydew, camphor, thyme…) Even after 30 years in glass, it did need water. Mouth (neat): how punchy! We’re used – so to speak – to try these old Bowmores at much lower strengths (around 43%) or at 50% (the Blacks) but this is quite different. Let’s say this is much more on orange liqueur, Cointreau, even Parfait Amour (violet liqueur), with even something a tad cardboardy. But water should help again. With water: yes sir, it does. Here come the kumquats and tangerines, followed by cough syrup, eucalyptus drops, mint, fir honeydew and plum spirit. Finish: long, in the same vein, with just that faint cardoardiness coming back at this stage. Comments: very interesting whisky. It seems that higher alcohol levels may work as peat preservatives! Now, the ‘usual’ Bicentenaries at 43% are more common, but frankly, they’re also tad better in our opinion. So much for CS bottlings!SGP:366 - 91 points.