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Bowmore 12 Year Old

Average score from 34 reviews and 180 ratings 81

Bowmore 12 Year Old

Product details

  • Brand: Bowmore
  • Bottler: Distillery Bottling
  • ABV: 40.0%
  • Age: 12 year old

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Bowmore 12 Year Old

Standard Bowmore releases seem to get no love from the whisky connoisseur community. Sure, older bottlings from the 1960s and 1970s are sought after, as are Bowmore offerings from Independent Bottlers (Samaroli comes to mind), but the humble OB Bowmores are under-appreciated in this writer's humble opinion. With that in mind, here are my notes from my latest bottle of the standard 12 year old from Islay's oldest distillery.

Neat from a Canadian Glencairn

  • Nose: gentle wood smoke, citrus (lemons and orange), vanilla, a bit of cinnamon.
  • Palate: light bodied, yet there's still a touch of oiliness, sugar cookies with vanilla-lemon frosting, orange zest, a bit of brine, and a faint maritime flavour (iodine? seaweed?).
  • Finish: darker and slightly longer than I expected, damp oak, green olives, freshly ground coffee beans, road tar, vanilla and shortbread lingers.

I have to say, this is more interesting than I expected from an inexpensive malt bottled at the minimum legal abv. At the risk of sounding snobby, I think this would go from "interesting" to "remarkable" if it were bottled at, say, 48% abv or so.

Thank you @OdysseusUnbound, nice review. In my book this is one of the most underrated whiskies! I always thoroughly enjoy it whenever i have it

I appreciate your reviews, as always, and I'm willing to accept that the one I reviewed was a lesser batch, but I have to say I would never buy a bottle of this stuff without tasting from the exact same batch, and even then, if I have a bottle of Laimrig, this would never be touched.


Nose: slightly sharp, fragrant smoke. Somewhat reminiscent of burnt paper. Vague, lemony sweetness underneath. A bit of black cherry.

Taste: a thin mouthfeel leads into sweetly smoky flavours. A funkiness unique to Bowmore, that burnt wood/burnt paper note. Something ever so slightly off-putting, hard to put my finger on.

Finish: Smoky dryness.

Balance: with apologies to Bowmore fans, this has never been my favourite distillery and this bottling won't change my tune. Drinkable enough, but the thin feeling of the smoke doesn't sit well with those sharp citrus flavours. Again, something is just a little bit off for my taste.

I agree. Not even close to a favourite. The OB cask strength offers from the early part of the decade were fantastic but the regular offerings would be anaemic if they were blood.

I must be an outlier on this one. While Bowmore 12 isn't at the top of my list, it's regularly available for under $60 and I enjoy it. Now it's not like a Glenfarclas 15 or a Lagavulin 12 CS in terms of complexity, that's for sure. I'm not going to sit in a leather chair by a fireplace in my study, swirling Bowmore 12 in a brandy snifter whilst pondering over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore. But I get a sweet vanilla biscuit note in my current bottle of Bowmore 12 that ties the citrus and smoke together nicely.


So I opened a bottle of one of my all time favourite daily drams yesterday, and whilst browsing through my old reviews I realised I had missed this one! The shame!

So it's time to put that right.

Nose Well balanced with both savoury and sweet elements. The smoke is up front but not overpowering, instead it works to frame the flavour profiles that lurk beyond. Ripe green apple... also stewed with cinnamon. Caramel as it cooks. A very subtle waft of smoked ham with maybe a sprinkle of cayenne pepper?

Palate Oily and chewy with plenty of caramel, mossy earth notes, bitter green cooking apples and a healthy serving of oaky smoke. There's less here than is suggested by the nose but it delivers.

Finish The finish is simple and oily.. it's sweet and smokey... the sweetness carried by orange.. both elements linger for quite some time for a younger expression.

Conclusion Satisfying is how I would describe this whisky. It is not, and has never been (in my experience) a class topping dram. But what it is, is done wonderfully. It's cheap, has plenty of character but remains (for an Islay) simple and accessible at the same time. I cannot imagine a time where a bottle of this isn't close at hand or even open in my cupboard, and at this price... why would I ever have to.

@conorrob - Nice review. I've had a bottle of this unopened for over two years now and keep meaning to open and try my first Bowmore (shocker!). Your review has definitely bumped it up the order ...

@conorrob Correct. It does not matter. There may be mild batch variations but they are all good.


Despite it's being overshadowed by the Islay heavyweights of Ardbeg, Laphroaig, & Lagavulin I think this whisky does a fine job of being just what it claims to be. If you're wanting to try Islay, but aren't sure if peat is for you, this is an affordable introduction. And, if you are peat head, but can't afford the prices of the Islay rock stars Bowmore can get you through the rough patch comfortably.

Tempest is 22 dollars more than this one in Ontario. LCBO actually wants you to pay $60. I think the difference in price is minimal compared to the difference in quality. As a quality over quantity person I would rather drink less of something good, less often, than any of this, ever.

I scored this a 71. Batch variation? Perhaps. I would choose to drink tap water before a dram of this. Even if my only other choice of beverage were Lambertus, I would dehydrate before drinking this.

I can certainly understand your point of view, given those context. However I do personally find this to be a quite enjoyable whisky. Locally (Being the Central Savannah River Area) it's about $40-45 a bottle. I've not found Tempest available locally, so am unable to compare.


Nose: at first smoke, then flowers and tropical fruits. Palate: smoky, honey, descreet oranges. Finish: slightly salty and short. A little bit weakish at 40%, but decent.


Can an aroma be fully bodied? Somehow this malt smells fat to me, bursting with fruit, sherry and smoke. The fruit is like orange juice providing a juiciness and a cutting edge that really makes this aroma sing.

On the palate it delivers the body promised by the aroma, with a balance of sweet fruity and smoky flavours. Some sherry and peat complete for attention with the oranges and some characteristic seaweed makes a brief appearance, it would not be Bowmore with it.

The finish picks up more seaweed and has a coastal salty twang, but you can’t escape from the smoke and orange even at the death.

Age is no reason to belittle this malt, it’s a little cracker that need not be kept from the drinker a moment longer. An excellent smoky all rounder, perfect for dark winter evenings.


Like the title says, not as dismal as I recalled (my previous review highlights my disdain for Bowmore 12).

Nose: soft peat, red fruit, vegetal, bread. Not too bad...

Palate: soft peat again, with watery honey and vegetal spice. Somewhat thin.

Finish: the spices subside but then crescendo in the finish. Something vaguely honeyish and bready, The finish is long, warming, and quite pleasant.

Overall, a better showing from Bowmore 12 compared to my previous experiences. Still not great though.


I bought this as part of a three pack of minis about a year ago. My brother-in-law had managed to get me a bottle of Laimrig and I wanted to try a few standard bottlings before talking a cask strength expression. I tried all three and I when I got to the Laimrig I didn't feel like they even came from the same distillery.

Now, going back to the partly filled bottles that I think I gassed about a year ago, I can sense a little similarity on the style, but certainly not the substance.

Nose: Neat, spirit, floral, perfume, hint of peat. With a few drops of water, peat comes forward more and there is a hint of syrup.

Taste: Neat it is at first hot, unpeleasant, burning. Dilute flavour with a "fuzzy peach" aftertaste. Water sweetens it and interestingly makes the mouthfeel more substantial.

I didn't finish this dram, like last year, and the last 10 cc are going to be mixed with something...


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!

The Laimrig is great, yes - I have a bottle of their first release at home, unopened, but I tried it at a friend's house once. I'll review the 18yo soon (was going to do it last night but got too tired and went to bed early!)

Well the distilleries are the only places where you can get cheap drinks. Only the Ben Nevis distillery didn't offer its primary single malt, you only got to try a small dram of its Dew of Ben Nevis. That being said, the Bowmore 12 is a great cheap malt, I don't get why people would not pay a few euros/dollar/pounds more for this expression that is so vastly superior over the entry level Legend and Surf.


Warm fast smoky peaty malty arrival develops a fast disappointing uneventful finish. For being the first distillery on Islay this was the lowest quality of whisky I personally have had from that region.


Bowmore 12 YO malt is, for many, the youngest acceptable Bowmore. The younger Bowmores show for many too much roughness in general and a leather note for which many do not care

The reviewed bottle has been open for 3 years, is 90% full, and has been preserved with inert gas for the last 15 months

Nose: medium slightly sweet peat, a hint of rosewater, a little brine, and a hint of smoke, against a background of barley-malt. Pleasant, and more mellow than is the nose of either Bowmore Legend 8 YO or McClelland's Islay 5 YO Bowmore malt

Taste: strong sweet peat flavours in the mouth, stronger than the peat flavours in the nose; otherwise, the nose translates well to the mouth

Finish: the strong sweetness and the malt flavours last a medium length; the ending is on bitter

Balance: Bowmore 12 YO Distillery bottling exemplifies the medium-peat Islay malt style. Personally I prefer whiskies to be more heavily peated and more medicinal/briney than is Bowmore 12, but I consider Bowmore 12 to be a very drinkable malt whisky. Those who like other Islay medium peated whiskies, such as most of the products from the Caol Ila distillery, will likely also like Bowmore 12 YO

Very well said, @Victor. I also prefer the heavier stuff, but Bowmore seems to be targeted a bit too much imho. A friend of mine HATES Bowmore. We had something of a debate about it just earlier tonight. I suspect in his mind an Islay whisky has no value unless it’s a devastating peat monster. Obviously I disagree. Not every Islay distillery needs to be locked in a competition as to who has the highest ppm or the most aggressive profile (although it’s fun that some are). I’ll concede that Bowmore is guilty of a few offenses (like generally lower abvs, adding E150a, and releasing immature stock at overblown prices). BUT I don’t think they should be chastised just because they’re NOT Ardbeg or Laphroaig. Medium peat has its place in the spectrum, and I think this dram is exactly what it should be: medium and mellow. As far as I’m concerned the 12 sits comfortably in its own niche, and I’m glad to see some other members here can also appreciate this one.

Anyway, enough ranting. Merci for another great review!


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.

I agree. 40% ABV is a bit light for my usual tastes but seems to be OK in this dram. Going to head down right now and replenish my supply. Snowing here, this will go well by the fire this evening. Jonesz

Tastes a bit like "peated water" to me..nice nose, but very. Tame on the palate. Very thin.

With 4 drops of water in a ~20 cc pour (from a 3 sample pack), the nose became less intense (doh!) , and no effect on the palate.

I won't even finish the dram.....


Founded in 1779, Bowmore was the first recorded distillery on Islay and one of the oldest in the whole of Scotland. Located on the shores of Loch Indaal which opens out into the Atlantic Ocean.

They produce their own floor malted barley which is then smoked in a peat-fired kiln and stored in oak casks.

This is a delightful bottle and very honest. What you pick up with the nose, you get on the palate.

Sea salt and honey, earthy peat, smoke and orange.

I like the lingering smokey finish which makes you want to pour another immediately. A really nice entry bottle from Bowmore which has made me add the 15 and 18 to my wish list.

After seeing the dentist yesterday morning - I stopped by a well stocked liquor store on the way home; my intention was to pick up a bottle of the 15 yr Darkest...

What caught my eye was the 12 yr right beside it; there were 'Wine Enthusiast' ratings (little stickers that cover up the price label on the shelf)...The 15 yr Darkest scored a 92 while the younger 12 yr scored a 93...

Reading the descriptions of both (and the fact that the 12 yr was $20 cheaper) - I went with the 12 yr...

So far it's a nice intro to Islay; fair amount of peat/smoke, and significant amounts of salt/honey/citrus.

Yeah, nice dram can't go wrong for £30


Nose: The peaty smell of a seaside clambake near a dying campfire. If you look for subtleties beyond this, you will find the light freshness of honey, hay, orange pith, and maybe--when the campfire breathes out-- french vanilla. (With time, the overall character softens to leather and orange peel.)

Palate: Entrance is sour orange and a drop of seawater. Becoming paler, into hay smoking in oil..., and then falling into lemon tang and the bitterness of salty liquorice.

Finish: Pale liquorice hangs on the back roof of the mouth with some remnant smoke. Around the tongue is angel cake laced with orange zest, although this latter sensation is somewhat pale.

There seems to be consensus on this one: It is a peated whisky that is easy, fresh and light-- and it is probably priced well for the experience. But for those looking for more, it can seem bland and unfulfilling. I recommend the 15 Mariner expression as the closest step up: it preserves this malt's character while both smoothening out sourness with raisiny depths and improving the finish.


Attended at my local liquor emporium today to replenish my stock of Laphroaig QC, happened to notice that Bowmore 12 was on special offer. Changed my mind and bought this whisky instead @$48.40 for a 750ml bottle. My first foray into Bowmore and I was a bit reluctant due to some reviews I had read but I am a thrifty soul! Nose: Peat smoke, lemon, brine and chocolate Palate: Relatively smooth with an oily mouthfeel, Lemon, peppery with a background note of peat smoke. Finish: Relatively short, notes of peat smoke and citrus. Nowhere near as long as Coal Ila 12 for example.The smoke leaves before the fire is out. This is a very tasty dram and I highly recommend it at this price. Here in Manitoba it is approx $20.less per bottle than say Laphroaig QC after taxes and very enjoyable. Would not hesitate to offer this to a good friend


I consider Bowmore 12 year old as one of the heavy boys when it comes to being smoky. But it is much more delicate than your usual Ardbegs or Laphroaigs. I guess it's more of an pal of Lagavulin. The first time I tasted Bowmore 12, I had already heard about it's potential smokiness. So even though it starts with gentle smoke, I kinda knew what was coming.

The same thing happened with the movie The Usual Suspects. It's a great movie with a nice twist at the end. For me the movie became a bit predictable because I saw it way too late. I had already heard about it's goodness and possible plot twists, even though my friends were kind enough not to spoil it for me. But when you're watching a movie and you know that something twisty is gonna happen, you start to look for it from every corner.

Both, Bowmore 12 and The Usual Suspects are great examples of their genre, starting off delicately and waiting for the big finish that gets you totally off guard. Well, not totally if you know what you're looking for. They both offer you sweet spots in the middle of darkness. That's why for me, Bowmore 12 year old became the Usual Suspect.

Nose: Pleasant is the right word for this sweet nose of citrus and orange combined with lots of peat and subtle smoke. Some floral notes as well.

Taste: The smoke is subtle. Warming honey , coastal element develops. Dark Peat. Blossom, oily sweetness.

Finish: The finish gets more smokier than the nose and taste. Dry, ashy and long finish with hints of citrus.

Balance: Sophisticated start that leads into intensively increasing smoke. Rich and consistent.

Unfortunately this is the only one I've tasted from the Bowmore range so far. Haven't heard much bad things about the Legend but Bowmore 12 years Enigma wasn't anything special according to few of my Finnish whisky friends.

Nice review, might give i a try though I usually prefers simple smooth whiskies instead of the firey ones.


On the nose, The Bowmore was rather smoky. This smoke was present on the palate as well the dram was lifted unexpectedly by delicate fingers of honey sweetness and a puff of citrus which existed almost more in the nose than in the mouth. And the finish added a tiny hint of bitterness–almost beneath the threshold of conscious notice–that pulled all that unexpected honey and citrus back into balance.


Bowmore distillery is located on Islay, on the South Eastern shore of Loch Indaal, and is said to have been founded in 1779. Today the distillery is owned by Morrison Bowmore Distillers Ltd, a holding company owned by the Japanese drinks giant Suntory.

The nose is delicate and almost floral. First there are light notes of orange and lemon, later these are followed by hints of brine and seaweed. This is a very light nose. Am I missing something? Where is the peat?

The palate is salty and a tad watery. I now get a whiff of peat but only so slightly. As we move along the palate it becomes more peppery.

The finish is medium-bodied and dry, with oak making a strong appearance.

This whisky is proof yet again that different batches can produce quite different whisky. When I think of the bottle of Bowmore 12yo that I bought in 2011 – a fruity, peaty, beautifully balanced whisky – it makes me sad to see what is in my glass today. This is nothing but tame and bland, a completely uninteresting single malt. One can only hope that the next batch will be up to the usual standard.

In Oregon, this bottle costs the same as Ardmore Traditional Cask, which is not bland. I know what you mean about Bowmore 12 being less than spectacular. I tried the 15 (not Darkest) and liked it much much more. I'm not crazy about the Darkest. When I drank it, I found it to be flat and sickly sweet. Perhaps the bottle at the bar was old and the whisky had gotten too much air, who knows. I never saw the level in the bottle or the bottle for that matter. I was sitting at a table.


When I was in Calgary in April last year (on a business trip, no one goes to Calgary in April for fun), I picked up a 5cl miniature of Bowmore 12 ($5.99 CAD at Cloud Nine, which is located in the Calgary Airport), which I split with my friend Jeff when he was over for a game of Arkham Horror.

My thinking on the issue was thus, if the 5cl sample of Bowmore was good, then I might consider buying a full bottle.

As many other whisky reviewers have noted, Islay whisky can be intimidating as there is a repution for smokiness and strong medicinal and/or industrial flavours that can be off-putting for those exploring malt whisky for the first time.

My first "peated" whisky was the Jura Superstition, and it really isn't all that peated when you compare it with Talisker or most other whiskies from Islay.

Bowmore, however, as been described by several reviewers as a "gentle" Islay malt, almost as if it were in some way an "introductory" Islay, although one of the guests at our December 2011 tasting party described it in passing, as "dirty" and "gritty" so I wasn't entirely sure what I was getting myself into.

A quick look at the minature bottle (complete with miniature cardboard sleeve!) revealed the following "official tasting notes":

Colour: Warm Amber

Nose: Subtle notes of lemon and honey are bound together with distinctive Bowmore smokiness

Palate: Warm and delicious with subtle dark chocolate and peat smoke

Finish: Long and subtle

How many times can you use the word 'subtle' in four short lines? Three, apparently...which makes me wonder just what Bowmore is trying to say about this whisky? Just how 'subtle' is it?

Well, it is certainly far less in-your-face than the Ardbeg 10. The smoke and peat were not overpowering, more reminiscent of the scent of a summer camp fire; in fact, the nose was far less aggressive and peaty than the standard Talisker 10.

On the tongue there was, in fact, a subtle sweetness that wasn't overwhelmed by the smoke, but I certainly didn't pick up any dark chocolate notes (I guess it was too 'subtle' for me to notice), and the finish was long and satisfying, almost salty, without the rough, unpleasant ashy taste that I found with the Ardbeg 10.

Are there any flaws? Well, if I really had to pick one, I'd have to go with the fact that Bowmore 12 contains E150a caramel colouring (as do many other whiskies, many of which I am fond of), which, while I'm not ideologically opposed to E150a, I wish it was disclosed on the labels (my assumption is that if the bottle doesn't say 'Natural Colour' or something to that effect, it likely contains caramel colouring).

Interestingly enough, while the E150a was disclosed on the miniature I bought in Calgary - because it seems that particular bottle had been imported from Germany, where all additives must be disclosed - it isn't on the bottles of Bowmore 12 that I've looked at at the LCBO. My bottles of Signatory Caol Ila and Peat Monster, which are both about the same age, and were aged in similar casks, are much paler, and have a more "natural" colour to them. Likewise, my bottle of Compass Box Spice Tree, has a darker, more satisfying (and natural) colour to it.

The Bowmore 12, while overall a good, recommendable whisky for those looking for a gentle introduction to Islay, is just an oddly perfect a shade of amber (almost too perfect, I'd say).

As for Arkham Horror, while it is a great cooperative / social game, if you're not a fan of H.P. Lovecraft and the Cthulhu Mythos, then it may be a bit confusing and hard to get into. The evening that Jeff and I cracked open the Bowmore 12 we were also experimenting with the 'Kingsport Horror' expansion. As the village of Kingsport is a port town , the Bowmore added a very nice maritime flavour to the evening; it felt like we were hardened mid-1920s era characters fighting against unimaginable cosmic horrors from beyond, knocking back whisky in an effort to retain our sanity (one of the 'Common Item' cards in the game is in fact a bottle of whisky that your character can "drink" and then discard in order to prevent Sanity Loss).


No Water: Oily, long thick legs Nose: smooth peat, burnt matches, Toasted vanilla, something fruity - citrus? Taste: Very pleasantly covers the mouth, no peppery sting - just some spice at the sides of the tongue, sweet smoke citrus...finish!: spice, smoke little bitterness when running your tong over your teeth. Warmth stays at the base of the throat OK second dram with water: On the nose a bit of orange marmalade coming through; the smoke is somewhat hidden. Taste, more sweet and light; once you swallow, the smoke emerges from the throat. a peaty finish with less spice and shorter of course.


As I mentioned in a previous review, I must often purchase my whisky blind and, therefore, I conduct quite a lot of research on a malt before committing. I was looking for an Islay or Island style single malt that would be a good bang-for-buck dram. All roads led to Bowmore. It is ubiquitous, inexpensive and, in nearly all cases, reasonable well-rated. Widely available for a mere $45 at the LCBO at the time, I felt that this was an easy decision and purchased with confidence. The results were....disappointing....

Nose: rich but tame smoke and soft peat. There is a pronounced sweetness, honey, red fruits, and orange. A very pleasant nose indeed.

Palate: light in the mouth. Initial soft smoke arrival, then sweet syrup and soft fruit. My only wish is that the whisky stop developing at this point, as it is quite agreeable. However, the flavours dissipate and the whisky becomes watery, thin, restrained, and underwhelming, like some cheap blends. This would be tolerable, if not for the finish.

Finish: the flavours drop away rapidly, leaving a prolonged vegetal and spicy leaf finish upon which some fruit essence can be found to linger. The finish is quite long, but dry and nearly indistinct if not for the vegetal vestiges. I glance at my watch, wondering when it will end.

I tried all that I could to redeem my purchase - every permutation of water and time in the glass and the bottle, cleansed my palate, dulled my palate, added Splenda (ok, that last one is a joke). Yet, rather than finding improvements, I found only bitter (literally) disappointment. Not wanting to dispose of the whisky, but not wanted to consume it either, or inflict it upon guests, I have since donated it to a fellow Connosr member where it will be treated with the respect and dignity it probably deserves.

I haven't tried any Bowmore yet, but it should be interesting to see it when I do, I've heard both good and not so good things about it. I've been trying to win a bottle of it for ages now because I figure that way I can try it with at least no pain to my check book hahaha.

I know what you're talking about with the vegetal finish, although I don't mind it at all. The 12 year old is one of my favourite entry-level whiskies. That being said, I am completely biased towards Bowmore.


Yesterday it was the Legend...ary Bowmore... Now let's try out the big brother. I was awaiting the pepper taste of the Legend and surprise... It's there but smoother, much more light a spice mix than just plain pepper. Very soft. I mean softer than the 8 year (Legend). There is something between oil and honey, and then the pepper come in but don't last, to leave a - I don't know what - of sweetness. The finish is very light, the taste don't last long, which is adequate here.


This was the first single malt I ever bought. I was in my first (low paid) job and it seemed like a small fortune at the time. I bought it during my lunch hour and had to have the bottle sat on my desk all afternoon, while I wondered what the golden liquid inside tasted like. At first I was blown away by the harshness, the seaweed and salt, like when you first get a mouthful of seawater. But then the smoke and peat came through and we made friends. This is definitely one to warm the spirits on a cold, rainy day.

This was also the first single malt I ever bought.

Very nice review! Honest and charming.


This was the first Islay whisky that I tried. I enjoyed it quite a bit, so I decided to buy a bottle. The color is golden, due to the added E150. Sure looks nice, but I prefer whisky without the E150, it just feels better and more "natural". The legs are nice and pretty slow.

On the nose I first find the obvious, peat and smoke. Letting the whisky open up in the glass for a couple of minutes, brings out a nice sweetness. I get vanilla and toffee. I also get a hint of ocean water. Very nice.

Sipping the whisky, I get mainly smoke, peat and a hint of licorice. Some sweetness can also be found, although not as obvious as it is on the nose. The finish is medium long, with some sweetness and smoke.

Overall I enjoy this whisky, although there are better choices from Islay. This one certainly is a good way to start though, as the Lagavulin or Ardbeg might be to much of a challenge for the whisky drinker who's used to lighter whiskies. A good dram and very affordable!


This was my introduction to Peated Malts and I am now addicted. May not be classed as the finest Malt on the market but it is a lovely drink. I will always have one in my cupboard - as should you Beautiful nose and a mild peat finish.


If you knew I was a Speysider you could guess where this is going... Nose was medium, obvious smoke & peat, but not fully rewarding... I did detect slight mineral & seawater after a few minutes... light fruit shows up after 15 mins. Nice legs! Palate brings more peat, smoke, slight salmon and earthy tones... it made me want to have some smoked salmon on hand immediately. The finish was rich at first but quick to fade in the back of the throat, lingering smokey & antiseptic-medicinal taste, but not unappealing. After water (10%) makes this a bi-polar dram that smooths everything out, making you want to sit on the porch on a rainy evening, relaxing with smoked salmon & listening to Otis Redding singing, "Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay." Let me know if this is accurate... never had a dram that made me crave smoked salmon and Otis Redding!


So on the request of michaelschout, I did a small vertical tasting of two Bowmore expressions brought to question. The first of the two I tried was the 12 year due to the fact that I found the Tempest to be both stronger (cask strength), and bigger on the nose, palate, and finish. A preface to the tasting notes: I found the Bowmore 12 year to be a bit of a disappointment on several fronts while enjoyable on others. If I were to judge this whisky (12 year) on cost and profile, I would give it a better mark but I am not about to write this with cost consideration. On to the tasting notes.

N:First off I found soft cherry and peat smoke. Spicy cinnamon is there to but wispy along with wet grass. Not to much seems to be going on yet but some more intriguing spice appears. Oranges float around in the background noticeable after the whisky has developed in the glass for a little while. The nose is interesting but throws a lot of feints (weaker notes) around. B:A thick and heavy lip forms rather quickly with large beads cropping up. The legs move along rapidly which I find odd. I acclaim these peculiar features to the added caramel colouring agent, which seems to have added a faux oiliness that contains an older whiskies traits but does not follow them to a point. The colour is a light copper. T:The sweet smoke resonates well, but the whisky is light on the palate. Slights of maltiness are present with sweet fruit (not poached) along with earthy peat texturing on the bottom. Toffee follows the line up though it is not creamy or buttery. I may have caught a note of tangerine but it could be the citrus being thrown around again. The palate could be so much more with a little more age (eggs me on to try the 15 darkest) adding a bit more to the "actual" oiliness that would be able to coat the mouth. F:Sweet citrus and apple bits with a smokey background. The peat is encompassing from the beginning. Clove and lemon zest can be noted to. There is an unpleasant bitterness showing up which isn't accompanied by anything, just bitter, but it is paved over by the light peaty smokiness. Near the kill of the finish I noticed a intresting buttery almond spread which definitely pulled a few points with me in the last few seconds.

I think this whisky is a good introduction to the peat realm. Though I find it somewhat weak and in dire need of some age tuning, it is also fairly inexpensive and you get what you pay for. With all that being said, I am partial to its delicate sweet smoke and short spectrum of peat. In comparison to the Bowmore Tempest 10 Year, I would have to go for the 10 year. This is because of a few things. Cask strength is big with me, so big points there. It is aged (to the extent of my knowledge) on Islay, opposed to being aged on the mainland like majority of the Bowmore line. Once again major points. Finally, the ten year expression shows what a good, honest Islay should be in my opinion. The price gap is well worth it, and I think many may avoid due to the age association "Why would I pay more for less years?". Quality can not always be determined by age, and I hope everyone can give this first release a try. Cheers!

Not to detract too much from your review, @Youngupstart, but I also think your score is out of step with those used by other members of the Connosr community. If, as you say, you "find the Bowmore 12 being in the 'average' whisky class", then it should get an average score—and 55 points is not average around here, by any stretch.

Consider novice users, or score aggregators, that aren't privy to the idiosyncrasies of your personal scoring system: having rated an "average" whisky with so low a score makes it appear a "bad" whisky to novices and aggregators, whereas other whiskies you haven't reviewed yet but might dislike even more will continue to have higher scores than this average one. This is why Connosr now uses a new interface for their 100-point system, including various "smileys" to indicate your level of enjoyment, so that we can all base our reviews on the same scale. You're of course welcome to score however you like, especially on your own blog or any other vehicle, but I urge you to reconsider how you score here.

These scoring conventions are arbitrary. We as individuals either accept a common standard or choose to vary from that standard, if such a standard is accepted by a broad group such as the membership of Connosr.com. I don't like either of the most common scales our members currently use, which I would describe as Michael Jackson-like, with the overwhelming number of whiskies rated between 70 and 90, or the Jim Murray Whisky Bible scale, which I use and which is similar to the Jackson scale, except there is a lot more usage of the 90-97 ratings, and the ratings average maybe 5-10 pts higher. Between these two similar systems I use the Murray style because I just don't see any good reason why the portion of the scale between 92 and 100 is almost never used. 70-90 pts for almost everything just doesn't give the differentiation I want. If I were grading the way that I myself like, I would grade between 30 and 100, and there would be some whiskies in the 40s and 50s for sure. I calculated the average scores I have given for my first 80 reviews and the number is 85.14. I am sure that that number would be considerably lower if I were to review all of the so-so products that I have sampled over the years. That's "Murray-scale" 85.14. On a Jackson scale the number for me would have probably been about 78.


Having tasted my first Bowmore 12 year at brunch last week, I decided that it would be my next bottle purchase. I am now enjoying a glass on a miserable, wet Saturday afternoon. Every bit as good as my first tasting, it has just the right amount of peaty smokiness and smoothness, with just the right amount of burn to make it interesting. I love the Laphroaig Quarter Cask, but when I am not quite in the moood for something so powerful, this Bowmore 12 year will fit beautifully. The nose is great with a balance of smokiness and background fruitiness (sherry?). Just the right amount of sweetness, and finishes with a lovely smokey dryness, leaving just the right amount of aftertaste. I honestly would have expected a bit more smoothness throughout (ie expected, and not necessarily wanted), but this does not disappoint. I am loving the small rough edge that this has, and this leaves me with a warm, rich glow. Giving this a rather high 90, a lot having to do with the wonderful price point for such quality. Here in British Columbia, $60.00 is very reasonable for a 12 year such as this. I am trying to keep my single malts down to that level, as I now realize that you can really get some exceptional ones without going to the 70, 80,90 and 100 dollar mark. I make an exception for the Laphroaig Quarter Cask, as I feel that even at $80.00 there is very fair value.

I just tried my first dram of Bowmore 12 yo and really enjoyed it. At $45 in Ontario, it is definitely on my wishlist (likely after I pick up HP 12, and Laphroaig QC) as it is priced similar to the Auchentoshan, Glenlivet, and Glenfiddich 12 yo's.

I agree completely about the value of the Bowmore 12 year old. It's a great price! It was in fact the first single malt I ever had and it's still one of my favourites although I haven't boughten a bottle in quite some time.


I received this bottle over the Holidays and thought it was about time I opened it. I also thought it was time I wrote my first review on the site so here it is.

Nose:Smoke and Peat. Vanilla bean ice cream while walking by the seaside.

Taste: Hints of smoke along with lightly charred wood. Toffee drizzled with chocolate and honey delivered with a lightly oiled elegance.

Finish: Light and beautifully smooth with delicately spiced oak.

I thoroughly enjoyed my first foray into the world of Bowmore. I would have scored it even higher had it not been slightly lacking in energy. As I tasted more of it I was looking for something that just was not there. It was like Superman without the cape, as with every sip I took I thought it was going to soar but it did not quite have the ways or means to get there.

nice review! generally speaking, I think that 40% is a low ABV for a good single malt...43% is better, but I would like to see all entry level malts bottled at 46% like ardbeg...

Wow. My first foray into the world of Bowmore was the Legend, which is not too good. This 12yr expression sounds very good. I'm still waiting to try the 15yr "Darkest".


I bought this bottle recently for a home tasting, without really knowing what to expect. Boy, was I pleasantly surprised. I think this is a really beautiful scotch, especially considering the price range it is in. I have tasted much more expensive whiskies that would not hold a candle to this dram.

The whisky has a really beautiful color, but since caramel was added to it it doesn't really count. Tears are thin and quick.

The nose. First sniff: sea air! Fresh and salty, one could call it the smell of freedom. A second sniff reveals light smoke and some citrus. I would call this a very inviting nose. I could easily spend a night just smelling this.

Tasting the whisky, I find the main tastes to be soft peat, spices and some oak. Smooth, but but exciting. The texture of the whisky is slightly oily, but less so than, say, a laphroaig.

The finish leaves us with - at last - lots of peatiness, fighting with a mouthfull of oak over your tastebuds. There is some barley thrown in there. The dram finished dryly with the oak winning the battle.

I agree very much with your review. Here is British Columbia, the price is $60.00CAD, which I consider exceptional value to this product. I tasted it at lunch today, for the first time, and preferred it over the 18 year old, which was offered to me at New Years. The 12 year is one of the best I have tried so far. I also concur with OJK in that respect: "The rest of the Bowmore range seems to struggle to live up to the quality of this 12 year old." I find that with more and more single malts, I prefer the younger ones. Cheers, Carl

One of my favourite "everyday" single malts. The rest of the Bowmore range seems to struggle to live up to the quality of this 12 year old.


Nose, Taste, Finish and Balance are graded out of 2.5 each.

Nose: There is the unmistakeably Islay hit of smoked eel, seaweed and medicine, however unlike some of Bowmore's famous Islay cousins such as Ardbeg and Laphroaig, there seems to be a sweeter approach here, more of a candied smoked eel, or an apricot flavour Strepsil. (2.0)

Taste: Immediately the spice and fisherman's friend come to the fore, closely followed by a sweeter accompaniment of banana bread and sweet popcorn. (2.0)

Finish: The peat continues however its banana bread sidekick is a loyal companion and stays by its side. Both seem to work in perfect harmony and stick around for a long and smooth finish, releasing more of the oak as it fades away. (2.0)

Balance: A really fantastic whisky, and one that I can turn to again and again. In terms of Islays, it rests more with the Lagavulin 16 in the sense that it has more strings to its bow than the "Islay" flavours alone, and can incorporate fruits and barleys into the picture as well. However whereas the Lagavulin 16 comes across as more of a noble statesman, there's a disarming and lighter touch here, a compelling mix of youthful zest and elegant sophistication. A whisky fatale if ever there was one. A mainstay on my whisky shelf. (2.5)

To dbk: Thanks a lot! Indeed a bit of humour was intended with some of the descriptions, but I suppose whisky comes up with so many crazy flavours you have to put them into words somehow. To LeFrog: I agree, smoked eel is an underrated delicacy.

Nice review! @OJK I don't know if you intended for "more of a candied smoked eel, or an apricot flavour Strepsil" to sound funny, but it does! I'll have to see if I can glean these peculiar scents next time I nose the Bowmore 12...


Had a tasting with several friends last night and decided to give the Bowmore range a go. We tried the 12 Year Old first.

The nose is filled with peat (obviously), but also citrus and some honey. My friend suprised me a bit when he said he smelled fingerpaint... Diluted with a bit of water, I felt the nose became a lot more complex and impressive.

On the palate, it starts out smoky, but the citrus and cocoa come out to play pretty fast. Even a bit of dark chocolate.

The finish is dry but warm, medium of lenght.

I was pleasantly surprised by this dram. On to the 15 year old!

An excellent Whisky for a relatively modest price!

Your review sums this Whisky up really well.

I also really enjoy the Bowmore 12yo. I never understood the bad rap it gets, even from "I taste what I can afford to buy" bloggers such as Ralfy.


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