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Some people swear by Bowmore while others don’t care for it. I like it fine, although my initial reaction to it wasn’t overly positive. I bought the 15 year old Darkest a while ago. My now outdated review suggests that I was disappointed. At the time I was. But the whisky has opened up a lot since I first bought it, and I find myself appreciating it more and more. I should rewrite that review with a higher score now. Anyway, it was that newfound appreciation prompted me to buy the 12 to see how it measures up.
Nose: Lovely peat, milk chocolate, smoked bacon, crème brulée, banana, citrus, and a pinch of salt. Light, coastal, smoky, and ever so slightly fruity. Pleasant.
Palate: Medium bodied. Quite a gentle dram by Islay standards. More oak on the palate. Nuts, sea salt, bacon, and a lovely light honey note dominate here. The smokiness is more intense here than it was on the nose.
Finish: Smooth as silk, with a lingering salty, dry oak note that seems to go on and on. Medium long and satisfying.
This is much better than expected. It bridges the gap between coastal/island drams, Campbelltown, and the peat monsters of Islay. One could call it a light Islay whisky. One could also mistakenly call it a peated coastal whisky, or a Campbelltown whisky with a differently styled peat presentation and stronger coastal notes. Either way, I enjoy the fact that this whisky is both robust and unassuming. It’s perhaps a bit too understated for some, but I think it suits the whisky. Also, I think the 40% abv works here. I know that sounds nuts, and it’s the first time I’ve EVER thought that about a whisky. But this dram isn’t about a kick in the pants. The peat gives this enough intensity. But it’s understated nature leads me to believe that this is exactly what it should be; a smooth intermediary of west coast flavours and characters. Good stuff.