View Full Version : Bowmore recommendation?
I'd like to pick up a bottling that is sort of the classic Bowmore expression - should I pick up the 12 yo, 15 yo Darkest, the old 17 yo, or the new 18 yo?
Locally, I can get the 12 yo for $43, Darkest 15 for $50, 18 yo for $80, and also the independently bottled Bowmore Prime Malt No. 4 1982 (21 yo) for $80. Not sure if any place still has the 17 on the shelves, but Binny's has it still...
(I posted this as a reply in the what are you drinking thread, but thought it would be more appropriate here.)
I'd get the 12 for the classic Bowmore palate, which has an interesting, fern-like top-note. It may come from the sandy peat in the area. In the Darkest, this is somewhat obscured by sherry notes, and the more aged expressions also sometimes de-emphasise that quality (although they can be very good whiskies). There was a version we used to get here, Mariner's, 15 years old (perhaps that is now the 17, not sure), that was more peated than the others but there too the classic Bowmore taste seemed a little altered. I'd go with the 12.
Gary knows quality,go for the 12yo.
I can tell you what NOT to get? The Bowmore Darkest is the most fake tasting paint thinner type SMSW I have ever had. I cant even get Islay drinkers to drink it.
I've heard that the Darkest 15 is much better than the NAS Darkest...?
Perhaps, I have the NAS Darkest.
I've only had NAS Darkest, and felt it quite average and just not indicative really of the Bowmore signature. This other expression might be different, but to my taste Bowmore shouldn't be a sherried whiskey.. I'd start with the 12 if only to have a baseline to judge some of the others after.
Tried the NAS Darkest, and the term "crap" comes to mind. The 17 was unbelievable.
I've heard the new 15 is just a relabled NAS darkest. Perhaps the expression has improved, but I'd have to taste it first before I buy a bottle of it. The old 15 "Mariner" I liked a lot more than the 12 - the flavours were more focused, the 12 being like a picture out of focus (nice but fuzzy). Heard the 18 is more sherried than the old 17 which makes it something for the Abelour CS fans, but I would have concerns about its balance as the 17 had quite a lot of sherry in it.
Hope any of this helps.
I'd start with the 12 if only to have a baseline to judge some of the others after.
I actually prefer the 12 over the new 18. But liked the no-longer-made 17 more than the 12, so I guess if I ever buy Bowmore again it would be the 12.
I picked up a bottle of Bowmore 12 today and really enjoyed my6 first dram. At first I was mostly getting sea salt and seaside/peaty scents on the nose and palate. Struck me as the archetype for seaside scotch. But after I'd been drinking it for a bit, I started to smell a real sweet, fruity nose with pear and probably more. Very interesting stuff.
Thanks for the recommendation, Gary! (and others)
This Scotch really seems like it benefits from getting a little breather in the glass before drinking.
Bowmore 12 was my first SMS, and I liked it well enough to immediately begin seeking out others. I still enjoy it quite a bit. I haven't had the 15yo Darkest. The original bottling of Darkest is very good: I have had two pours from a friend's bottle, and they were spectacular. A bottle I bought for myself - horrid. It's obvious they used younger and/or lesser casks with injudicious amounts of caramel coloring to try to maintain the profile. I have heard good things about the age-stated Darkest (Bowmore had gotten into lots of NAS bottlings for a time), but haven't tried it, as the old 15yo has yet to disappear around here and make room. I've done my part, buying 3-4 bottles of the 15yo Mariner, which is a personal favorite: salty and candied in equal parts with the vegetative notes firmly in place. The 17yo is very good, well-sherried and chocolatey-rich. The 18yo is supposedly more sherried. It's up to the individual palate to decide how you feel about this. Personally, I enjoy some sherry, but not sherry monsters (A'bunadh excepted). Gary, I saw your mention that you're not a fan of Bowmore using sherry casks, but I really like it, as it is the only heavily-sherried Islay malt (I know Lagavulin uses a healthy percentage of sherry casks, but it doesn't come through as it does in Bowmore). It's a different way to taste the signature medicinal and peated notes of Islay. I have a 16-yo bourbon cask Bowmore I have not yet opened, and a single cask bottling from an unspecified oak cask (not sherry from the look of the unchillfiltered spirit) that is also unopened. One or both of these might change my mind about the sherry influence in Bowmore.
All of which is to say, I'd recommend at least giving the 15yo Darkest a shot now that you've tried and liked the 12yo (particularly if you like a heavy sherry influence). If you can get some of the old 17yo, a bottle of that would serve you well, too.
I am certainly open to trying these sherried ones again or for the first time where I haven't had them. Lagavulin has its Distiller's Edition (I think it is called) which is finished in Pedro Ximinez casks and is very sherried indeed, so that must be added to the regular issue which I agree has some sherry influence. I am not saying the sherried expressions aren't worth trying but that it is good I think to start with the regular 12 year expression which is more the classic flavor of the mark. That sandy, ferny taste comes through unalloyed in that whisky and from there one could judge the others, but it sounds like there are some good ones. I found the original Darkest disappointing but the 15 year expression sounds promising. I'll have to try the 18 too, I think we can get that here.
Anyone here know anything about the quality of the independent bottling of Bowmore known as Prime Malt Selection No. 4? It was bottled in 1982 and is 21 years old. I think it is bottled at 92 proof. A local shop has reduced their price on it to $60/bottle.
Here's a photo:
No idea, but Bowmore gets bottled quite regularly as an independant bottling, so there are more well-known bottlings around. Not sure about this one - sorry.
$60 is a good price for a 21 yr Bowmore, I'd buy it just to see how it compares to the 12 and 18. Independants are often a truer example of a distillery's malt since they usually don't add color and often don't chill-filter. That one definitely looks uncolored and was probably only matured in a bourbon barrel since it's so light.
The Prime Malt bottlings are as far as I know good quality scotch. Just not as well known as Signatory or Gordon & MacPhail. I love the 12 yo Bowmore as well. Although if you want more "bang for you buck" (and you are a Bowmore fan firstly) try the "Legend" NAS it of course is a young Bowmore. I like the Legend as a "cheap" sms at about 22-25 dollars a bottle locally and yet still having the taste of Bowmore, but not as refined as a longer aged bottle. If fact I had some Legend tonight, followed by Aberlour 10yo then Auchentoshan 10yo. Just a glass of each about 2-3 fingers deep. And oh yeah- Hello to the forum, I have been an on and off again reader for a few years.
Thanks for the info. I am continuing to enjoy the Bowmore 12 right now. I find it very interesting how it seems to switch from lightly peaty/briney to sweet after about 15 minutes in the glass. Not sure if it's the exposure to air or just my palate becoming accustomed to the peaty/seaside notes and noticing the sweetness more easily.
As a sherried scotch drinker, by extreme preference, and Not An Islay Guy At All, generally.. the 15 Bowmore Darkest is quite a nice dram. The more sherry the better for me, but I've not had the NAS to compare it to.
What I was reminded of was the Talisker Distillers Edition, only younger and sweeter. (The Distillers Edition is a (imo) very non-typical Talisker)
My standard drinking style is a slosh in a glass, no ice or water, and Bowmore Darkest works just fine that way.
I've enjoyed the Bowmore 12, but was very disappointed with the Bowmore 17. One of the slowest emptying bottles I've ever had. It has what I can only describe as a lemony taste that dominates any other flavor, including the faint whiff of peat at the end. I'm tempted to think I got a bad bottle, but no way am I investing the money to find out.
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