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Bowmore 15 Year Old - Darkest

An Ongoing Adventure

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@AboutChoiceReview by @AboutChoice

3rd Dec 2010

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  • Nose
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  • Taste
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  • Finish
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  • Balance
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  • Overall
    83

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Distribution of ratings for this: brand user

Bowmore 15 Darkest is so far the most difficult bottle that I have reviewed. It is aged in American bourbon casks, and then in oloroso sherry casks, and is an offering from a minority group of assertive whiskies, in which both a smoke and a sherry component each holds its own … the word “hint” does not apply here. HP 12 is in the fringes of this category, but is gentle and sophisticated compared to Bowmore.

Bottle Nose: Deep fruit, raisons and chocolate … a classic sherry signature.

Glass Nose: A unique oily petroleum smokiness which reminds me of a factory, auto shop or asphalt.

Palate: Lovely, sweet, lively and complex fruity opening … and then the dominating smoky fog rolls in and takes over until the next sip. The unique petroleum type of smoke seems consistent with the nose and with other Bowmore expressions. All tasted without water.

Finish: The smoke continues and becomes dry and sour, with hints of grapefruit. The finish is medium and quite satisfying, and the taste from the pungent sour smoke lingers forever.

Conclusion: At a sensory level, what I (usually) notice most is the somewhat unpleasant type of oily smoke, and moreover, that the lovely sherry experience and the smokiness (usually) do not intermingle, and they do not seem to compliment each other. First you are served the tantalizing sherry, and then the oily smoke … and finally you leave with dry and sour desert.

Bowmore Darkest is hard to get to know. For a long time I did not care for this crude and industrial style of peat/smoke; it is different from all the other Islays that I have tasted. And though I still have problems with the smoky part, each tasting is often different from the last. This bottle is always engaging, never boring and always provides an adventure. Over several months Bowmore Darkest has grown to fill a niche in my cabinet … there is really nothing else like it, and it hardly fits in anywhere. Though not at all a goto malt, it is a good choice when I am wanting something different and wildly interesting. So with this redeeming character, I’m beginning to feel that I might miss this distinctive sweet and sour renegade when it is gone … and I might just pick up a replacement bottle. Maybe @dbk will have the rest of his bottle up for sale :-)

Be sure to also see @dbk’s somewhat confirming review, along with additional insights and meaningful differences.

Score: 83/100 (the score includes a few points for its engaging uniqueness)

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11 comments

@Wills
Wills commented

An engaging review once again. Thx @AboutChoice!

I always had an eye on this dram, but wasn't able to try it yet. I guess everyone has those whiskys he just HAS to taste in the future - mostly the near future ;)

Do you think this special peat/smoke character is usual for Bowmore distillery, or is it just the Darkest?

5 years ago 0

@Wills
Wills commented

No idea why, but right now I got the 'I want you so hard I want you so good' by Eagles of Death Metal in my mind :)

5 years ago 0

Sroberts86 commented

I might well get shot here but its fantastic in cocktails and a generous amount in a hot chocolate on a cold night is genuinely amazing.

5 years ago 0

@AboutChoice
AboutChoice commented

@Wills, thank you for the kind words. I have to say, even having done the review, Bowmore's peat/smoke does not do a lot for me. There is nothing special about the Bowmore 12 character, the Darkest is very interesting but problematic (see @dbk's review as well); the Dawn is also interesting in a more positive way, but strange ... I'm planning to review that. I can't really answer your question, as I haven't tried enough Bowmores. I haven't tried Eagles of Death Metal yet :)

@Sroberts86, I assume you are new to fine whisky. I'll bet you can find much cheaper ingredients that will yield a similarly tasty cocktail ! :-) ... never heard of anyone getting shot on Connosr yet !

5 years ago 0

Sroberts86 commented

No been at this about 8 or ten years but I was at Bowmore and it was something unexpected they ran for Feis Ile, shockingly good but I've never made it myself, as you say too expensive. Did cook with tempest batch one mind, but only once.

5 years ago 0

@AboutChoice
AboutChoice commented

I don't know what "Feis Ile" means ?

5 years ago 0

@systemdown
systemdown commented

@AboutChoice Just off the top of my head, I believe it's something along the lines of "Islay (or island) festival". Given it happens exclusively (?) on Islay, that's what it means to me even though technically the "Isle" part in Feis Isle could be any island.. I think shrugs

5 years ago 0

@AboutChoice
AboutChoice commented

Thanks @systemdown, that sounds like great fun ... and the whisky must be flowing ! Hope to make it over some time ...

5 years ago 0

Sroberts86 commented

Thats it, there is also an islay jazz festival hosted by the distilleries. Both are excellent.

5 years ago 0

@systemdown
systemdown commented

Yes it would be amazing fun. I hope to go some day! It's on my "bucket list" for sure. Many Islay distilleries release special Feis Isle bottlings at the festival each year that are highly sought after.

5 years ago 0

@systemdown
systemdown commented

Also, correction, just checked spelling and it is indeed "Feis Ile" not "Feis Isle". Apologies.

5 years ago 0

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