Bowmore Distiller’s Collection [Bowmore 12, 15 Darkest, 18]

Bowmore C 1

I’ve noticed a lot of samples piling up around the house… Time to start working through them. What a hard life I lead.

Awhile ago I made a joke concerning the general view of Bowmore on this Subreddit, stating it was generally maligned (even above Jura). And while older Bowmore’s typically get good praise, the younger ones usually have mixed reviews. This is odd as this is the largest Islay Distillery, and you’d expect that a bunch of peatheads like us would find an Islay good no matter what.

I realized that I hadn’t tried Bowmore just yet, and so headed out to purchase the Bowmore Distiller’s Collection. You all probably know what happened when I bought it (security, blah, whine, first world problems, etc.), and now that I’m finally over my cold, I can review them.

So without further rambling (HA! Like I can stop rambling), here’s my introduction to Bowmore.

Price for Distiller’s Collection: $24.50 (CAD)

Bowmore C 2

Bowmore 12

Price: $51.35 (CAD) for a 750ml

Region: Islay

Abv: 40%

Colour: Burnt Orange

Nose: Peat, smoke, pepper, sea salt, mango, cardamon

Hey, this doesn’t smell too rough. It’s quite light though. Maybe I was wrong for making a joke about this place.

Taste: Watered down OJ, burn, peat, salt, pepper, chocolate

On second thought… This is very bi-polar. And the only flavour that isn’t weak is the burn. Not happy.

Finish: Sour mashed oranges, peat, leather, onion, cumin, cocoa

Well… the finish has a medium length on it. Which is nice, because if it was longer I’d probably have to scrape my tongue with an SOS pad.

Conclusion: Nice nose, not so great taste, rough ass finish. Just not my thing. I’m surprised there’s an Islay I don’t like, but this is it.

68/100

Bowmore C 3

Bowmore Darkest 15

Price: $91.95 (CAD) for a 750ml

Region: Islay

Abv: 43%

Colour: Walnut red

Nose: Strong then light, boiled cherries, peat, cough syrup, plum, strawberry flavouring, cashew, lime cordial, rotten flowers

Again, a decent nose. It looses it’s luster after about 10 minutes of breathing, and the peat quickly changes the Sherry notes from fruity to dead flowers. I’m worried after the 12 that I’ll have to drag my tongue across the carpet for these.

Taste: Framboise, cloves, smoke, cinder blocks, lemon (faint), pepper, dark chocolate, apple

Okay, this isn’t so bad. It’s not the best sherry finished whisky I’ve had, but it’s trying. I’d prefer a little more fruit here.

Finish: More cloves, nutmeg, peat, mushrooms, moss, anise

And we lose the fruit. Okay, I’m being mean here, the finish is quite nice, and long. It has that Christmas spice flair, and that’s certainly better than the 12.

Conclusion: They are getting better with this one. It’s not easy mixing a peated whisky with sherry, and this is a good first try. I almost thing it needs more time in the cask to really open up the fruit on the nose (and more in the taste), however I’m not hating this.

75/100

Bowmore C 4

Bowmore 18

Price: $126.95 (CAD) for a 750ml

Region: Islay

Abv: 43%

Colour: Light stained oak

Nose: Passion fruit, mint, perfume, smokes, salt air, grape drink, butter

This has improved quite a bit. This is quite unique. I’m quite happy with the 18, it looks like it’ll make up for some concerns in the 12 and 15.

Taste: Wood, pencil shavings, banana, taro, peat, brown sugar, heat, peanuts, raspberry, vanilla, corn

Or… not. It’s hard to explain what I don’t like about this. It reminds me of a younger Bourbon, which isn’t to say I’m bashing on Bourbon, it’s to say that after 18 years int he cask, I expected something a little… different than a young Bourbon. Very woody and vegetal.

Finish: Lots of oak, cassia buds, mushroom, bay leaf, medicine

It always saddens me to ready about an 18 year whisky with 43% Abv. The finish was short and woody. Kinda a let down from a great nose. Heck, the taste seems better now compared to the finish.

Conclusion: This one should be an easy 83+. I mean, it’s 18 years, it has a great nose, and then… blah. It’s not horrible like the 12, or missing some key aspects like the 15. Heck, it’s more consistent than either of them. But… come on, a short finish full of oak? Or a young Bourbon flavour (with some peat)? Needs more time.

79/100

Oh well, guess I’ll have to snag a sample of the 25 to keep looking.

Scotch reviews #35-37, Islay reviews #12-14, Whisky Network reviews #48-50

1001 Whiskies to taste before you die review #27-28 (12 and 15 Darkest)

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