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I received for Christmas from the ex a 3-50mL Bowmore pack of 12, 15 and 18yo. I reviewed the 15 a short while ago, so let's take a look at the 12!
The colour is a deep amber. On the nose, very citrusy (lemon, orange), dark honey and light peat flowing through. Quite floral. Medicinal notes are there but they are rather tame. A little sawdust. Slightly vegetal. Butterscotch ice cream! A definite briny, maritime character. When water is added, both nose and palate reveal more malt, peat and smoke. Quite complex for an entry level malt.
On the palate, the peat remains restrained while we get more malt, liquorice all-sorts, caramel, vanilla and rum-raisin. Some milk chocolate. Richer than I remember.
The finish is where the smoke really takes over, with some nutmeg and cinnamon arriving with oak. I've always enjoyed the 12, it was one of my first single malts and was really my introduction to peat (later cemented by the Laphroaig 10). I'm tasting this side-by-side with the 15yo Darkest, which is, well, darker and also features much more sherry influence (which I prefer). The 15yo is at a slightly higher strength (43%) as well.
Incidentally, if you visit the distillery (I popped by in May 2013, though I didn't take a tour), you can sit at the bar and drink the 12 and the Legend FOR FREE. That's right. Without buying a tour ticket. Just walk in, sit down, and drink these two malts all the livelong day. No wonder Scotland is full of alcoholics!