Bowmore 12 Year: 40% abv
Background: Welcome back to Islay for another Single Malt Scotch review. KCM tends to stray away from the 40% bottlings, but Bowmore is a distillery we haven’t yet visited, so here’s our due diligence. Bowmore is actually the oldest licensed distillery on Islay, and produces a significant amount of malted barley in house, which is presently an uncommon occurrence. Bowmore also ages a good portion of their whiskies in house. This being said, the Bowmore brand sits in the middle of the peat spectrum, and lacks in the craft presentation that many of their competitors have. Bowmore has a lot of potential for improvement from the get go, but where do they stand in current quality?
Nose: There is a lot of interesting notes in this whisky. This whisky has an interesting leathery note right off the nose. There is a slight peatiness which compliments the leather notes, along with subtle notes of malt. There is a bit of wood smoke that suggests itself to the senses, but not too . Floral lavender smell is also present along with some perfume-like notes. There are some fruit notes, including over ripened bananas and cherries. You also find some coastal, salty notes in the whisky, characteristic of the Islay malts. KCM also found this close to the smell of Worcestershire sauce. This is very original in smell, although presumably unappealing to some.
Arrival: The arrival starts off mild, with some burnt sugar, sherry, malt and salty flavors. There is a slightly medicinal character in the arrival, with some oak charcoal flavor as well.
Body: The body has a strong cool mintiness. This mint is very much like mouthwash you might buy at CVS. There is still some malt flavor in the whisky as well. In addition, dark flavors of maple and molasses are both present in this whisky. There is a grainy character in the body, somewhat pushing outside of the barley malt traditional.
Finish: The finish sustains the mint and oak flavors, with a bit of malt and sea salt. There is plenty of mineral notes, and a vegetal, peaty note to the finish as well. There is a leathery, wood char note as well. Although the finish is unique in flavor, there is no dynamics to the whisky. The finish ends on a slightly flat note.
Final Comments: Bowmore is an example of a good whisky with tons of potential. We really enjoyed the unique flavor profile that Bowmore has to offer, and it sits in stark contrast to many of the other Islay Scotches we experience. That being said, the low proof and the presentation of the whisky detracts from the overall quality and complexity. At the end of the day, this does not stay competitive for a lot of reasons. Bowmore also edges on the pricier end for what they give you. Ultimately, this is worth trying, but maybe more of a bar dram than a bottle to own.
Why you’d buy it: You want an Islay with a different style.
Why you wouldn’t: You don’t buy things with minimum credentials.