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Bowmore 12 Year Old Enigma

The cheerleader...

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@hunggarReview by @hunggar

4th Jan 2014


  • Nose
  • Taste
  • Finish
  • Balance
  • Overall

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Distribution of ratings for this: brand user

If you’re not a fan of Bowmore’s house style; you’ll probably hate this. If you’re not a fan of peat/sherry marriages; you’ll probably hate this. I’m sure that there are a lot of people out there who could never be fans of this whisky. Admittedly, this is a loud, obvious, uninhibited, and unsophisticated addition to the peat/sherry family. But if you can handle the style and you don’t mind a lack of nuance, then go ahead and pour yourself a dram. For contrast’s sake I’m sipping the Enigma side-by-side with its older brother, the Darkest.

Nose: Here we have Bowmore’s signature gentle peat and smoke mixed with a very sweet, candied sherry. Maraschino cherries, red licorice, strawberry syrup, and a sweet, light caramel. There’s also leather, salt, cinnamon, praline, and toffee. There is an oak note here, but it can’t compare to the deep, rich woodiness that one gets from the nose of the Darkest. Very sweet and gently smoky, but not very subtle or complex.

Palate: Very much a continuation of the nose, but with stronger peat. The peat and sherry come on simultaneously, however they don’t seem to intersect. Candy flavours are here; once again giving us maraschino cherries, licorice, and strawberry syrup. Meanwhile the peat continues to offer salt, leather, and praline.

Finish: The smoke takes the lead here. There’s a lingering tobacco note, and those maraschino cherries persist. Salt and light caramel. Some drying oak comes in, but it’s not the strong, rich oak presence that I enjoy so much in the Darkest.

Unsurprisingly, this pales in comparison to its older brother. Not only is the Enigma more “candied,” but it has a lower abv, less complexity, less depth, less integration of flavours, and less of that beautiful, dark, rich woodiness that I love about the Darkest. Also, both the peat and sherry are very loud in this dram, so there’s little subtlety or nuance to be found. Finally, it lacks integration. The sherry and peat seem to be working apart from one another; the flavours never really seem to intersect or interact. Indeed, this is far from being the best combination of peat and sherry.

So why, then, do I still like this? Well for one thing it’s cheap, and it’s sold in a 1L bottle. More importantly; it’s a good casual sipper if you’re a fan of the style. This is my go-to dram when I want something from the peat/sherry family tree, but I don’t feel the need to analyze or indulge. This is the perky, cheery, dimwitted cheerleader of the genre. Not very deep, but attractive, fun, harmless, and sweet.

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vanPelt commented

Ha! Oh god, it's such a shame that certain reviews like this one didn't (apparently) get the audience they deserved! Well done; I never had this one, but I feel like this answered my questions about it. Cheerleaders indeed...

4 years ago 0

Victor commented

@vanPelt, I agree with you. This is an excellent review. Great descriptive detail. Thanks, @hunggar!

I kind of get a kick out of how much Bowmore divides people. Soooo many people hate Bowmore...soooo many people like, even love, Bowmore. @hunggar almost takes his life into his hands by even admitting that he likes Bowmore Darkest 15 YO.

4 years ago 0

Nozinan commented

It's not that I hate Bowmore or love Bowmore. I like Good whisky and dislike bad whisky. As far as I'm concerned the regular releases are thin, lacking in flavour, underpowered and overpriced.

The releases like Tempest, laimrig and devil's cask are full of flavour, and in some cases priced reasonably.

4 years ago 0

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