Today I was invited to an industry tasting of the entire and currently available in market Bowmore and Laphroaig whisky selection. This was scheduled to be held at Vancouver’s newest secret bar: Bagheera in Chinatown. And at that time I have yet to visit, so found that reason enough to attend.
The occasion was held from 1:30-3:30pm, before the bar opened to the public at 5pm. Invited guests included bar managers, beverage directors and those who reported on spirits, such as myself.
It was a casual affair. Once ushered in, we invited to help ourselves to open bottles at the bar and mingle as we saw fit.
For those who have never been to Bagheera, it may be tricky to find. Hidden behind the facade of a horse betting saloon is a regal Indian themed watering hole. No passwords or secret knocks, you simply open the “entrance” door and pass through the unmanned front. Seafoam green partitions, chalk written names of horses and their lap times, plus a slew of newspaper printed race results.
Making your way to the only door, transports you to a whole new world. Just follow the glow of gold, past the corridors of hand written postcards, and into the room shaped like a tunnel with curved ceiling to walls.
The bar itself runs down the length of the space, splitting the room between barstool seating and more intimate couches on the opposite side of the room. The latter is framed by a black and white landscape of lush jungle foliage paired with leopard print lamp shades.
Although, the back lit amber bar counter is what captures your attention, drawing you in and directing your eyes up at the ceiling and walls done with panels showcasing jewelry. Embellished necklaces, bejeweled earrings, and baubles for bracelets. This was the perfect regal backdrop for the premium brands of liquor we would be tasting today.
Just past the main room is a secondary lounge with colourful tuft pillows. This is also where they host their bottle locker program. Visitors are able to purchase full bottles of spirits, and leave them at Bagheera to pour and sip from, at a later date. Each bottle is secured in your own locker, should you opt in for the service.
Worth calling attention is their washrooms that continue to foster the exotic theme. Done with leopard printed wallpaper, a feathered chandelier, and golden monkey sculptures holding on to lit light bulbs.
But I digress, back to the event at hand. Once again this was an informal affair and a way for the brand to thank and recognize those in the industry for supporting and showcasing their spirits. As well as a way for the reps to causally reveal tidbits of what we can expect from Bowmore this year. 2024 will be a big year for the Islay spirit with a rebranding of their packaging from stark white to sleek black. 2024 will also see the release of their 58 age statement with only 100 available in the world. And their series three Aston Martin release, aged in ex-bourbon hogsheads and finished in a Sherry cask to have it looking as dark as cola. This would be $950 per bottle by allocation, with 3,000 units available globally.
On the counter today was the Bowmore 12, a great starting point for those unfamiliar with the brand. Here you are able to taste your way through the age statements and really see the difference time makes. As the lightest, this is the one you mix with.
And speaking of, for those who don’t like their whisky neat, the bartender was mixing Bowmore 12 year into Old Fashions on ice.
The Bowmore 15 gives you more golden fruit and grain with a touch more acidity to end on.
The Bowmore 18 grows smokier with baked golden fruits.
And at Bowmore 22 we have the smokiness giving way to bolder more pronounced flavours of caramel and honey.
And for those who like a more smokey bouquet overall, their sister whisky, Laphroaig has a collection a single malt peated whisky, at various age statements.
Overall, this was a great way to help yourself and learn more about Bowmore and Laphroaig with the people that work behind and infront of it. A great experience and teaser for what to expect from the brand coming up to Vancouver Cocktail Week.
518 Main St, Vancouver, BC V6A 2T9