Saturday, April 3, 2010

Review: Bowmore 12

Bowmore 12
Price: $40-$50
Strength: 40 %

Bowmore is an Islay distillery that produces medium-peated whiskies.  Their entry-level whisky, Bowmore Legend, is a decent bargain (though rumor is that its price is going up) but a bit "cheap Scotch" tasting.  With the 12-year-old, the peat opens up a bit more, especially on the nose.  The nose is particularly wonderful, evoking the sea that is pictured on the bottle with salt, peat, and soft smoke.  In addition: floral notes, some rubber, and perhaps some sherry influence.

Despite the complexity, the components of Bowmore 12 feel a bit out of balance, and I find myself wanting a stronger peat influence, especially on the palate.  The body is a little thin, but the medium-length finish is rescued by re-emergent smoke and sea.

Gains points for:
  • Evoking some of the same rich, wonderful rubbery menthol character of Bowmore's older bottlings.
  • Complex with wonderful nose.  One of those drinks that you'll still nose the empty glass the morning after.
Loses points for:
  • Evoking some of the same cheap Scotch (who put out their cigar in my whisky?) taste as Bowmore Legend.
  • Bottled at a paltry 40 %, you're going to wish Bowmore had decided to add some whisky to your bottle of distillery water.  Who else bottles respectable single malts at 40 %?
Bowmore 12 is a great introduction to Islay Scotch, especially if you know someone who has yet to try a peated Scotch, but is otherwise outclassed by both its peers on Islay and Bowmore's older bottlings.  82 points (B-).

Other Bowmore reviews:
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