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Bowmore 15 Year Old - Darkest

Dark but Never Dull

0 1087

@WhiskyBeeReview by @WhiskyBee

15th Aug 2013

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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
    87

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Distribution of ratings for this: brand user

Bowmore 15 Darkest has certainly gone through some changes in the time (about two months) since my bottle’s been opened. Waxy, acidic, and sulfur-y at first, it’s now softened up with a nicely balanced sweet-and-smoky profile. It also has more layers than a James Joyce novel and more surprises than a talking dog.

This whisky is aged for 12 years in American bourbon oak, and then finished for three years in Oloroso sherry casks. The result is a Scotch with abundant flavors – so many, in fact, that it’s a challenge to keep track of them as they evolve. I like this one both neat (for more flavors and a smokier bite) and with a drop of water (for smoothness, sherry, and caramel).

Nose: Fresh sea air overrides everything; a dozen other aromas make fleeting appearances the longer it sits. Dark chocolate, toffee, and a slight floral note at first. A slightly unpleasant meaty smokiness arrives soon thereafter. It has all the rich barbeque sweetness reminiscent of a good Laphroaig, but it also has an off component that reminds me of Liquid Smoke (and if you’ve ever used too much Liquid Smoke in cooking, you’ve probably tried to repress the memory).

Thankfully, the Liquid Smoke never intrudes too much, and the smoke component turns more phenolic and peaty after a few minutes. Things also turn very sweet, with plenty of caramel, sherry, and a big fruit basket. Twenty minutes on and there’s still surprises to be discovered. I can’t say I like everything this nose has to offer, but I’m certainly entertained every step of the way.

Palate: The sweetness foreshadowed by the nose takes a moment to arrive. Wood, bitter tea, and salted almonds at first. Five seconds later, it’s a chocolate-covered cherry that’s been soaking for an hour in a glass of sherry. Quite delicious and articulate at this stage.

The finish is hearty but smooth, reasonably long, dominated by licorice-y peat and malt. There’s that damn Liquid Smoke again at the tail end. Take a wee sip of water after about 40 seconds to avoid this.

I’ll admit to being a little confused by Bowmore 15. I’m enjoying it, but its many twists and turns make it a tough one to pin down. Recommended for those who like a dram to be a roller-coaster experience.

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10 comments

@hunggar
hunggar commented

Great write-up @WhiskyBee. I wrote a review of this myself a few months back when it was freshly opened and didn't quite love it. Since then it's been sitting in my cabinet and hasn't been touched. You've definitely inspired me to revisit this!

4 years ago 0

Rigmorole commented

The darkest thing in your bottle is E150a and a lot of it.

4 years ago 0

Rigmorole commented

I like Darkest, by the way. I just wish it wasn't so "dark", if you know what I mean. It would taste even better without the fake caramel stuff.

4 years ago 0

Rigmorole commented

a bit higher ABV would be nice as well

4 years ago 0

@WhiskyBee
WhiskyBee commented

@rigmorole - Sometimes I'll grumble about e150a and low ABVs, sometimes I don't bother. Thanks for saving me the trouble this time.

I almost gave this one an 85, but I was in a generous mood. Without the coloring and with at least 46% ABV, it might have rated in the 90s.

4 years ago 0

@SMC
SMC commented

If possible check out Bowmore Laimrig 15. I think it's the same whisky as the darkest, but at cask strength and non-chill filtered. Amazing stuff.

4 years ago 0

@WhiskyBee
WhiskyBee commented

@SMC - Can you get the Laimrig in Ontario? I didn't think it was available at all in Canada or the U.S.

4 years ago 0

@SMC
SMC commented

It was sold in Ontario, but the LCBO's allotment has sold out. It is still listed in the system though, which means it may be coming back. Only the powers that be know when though. It sold for $99 CDN.

4 years ago 0

@Nozinan
Nozinan commented

Available at the LCBO, but not much of it around. But for $92? No way. I am going through a flight of three from my sample pack, in preparation of trying the Laimrig in December. This one is better than the 12... I think I WILL finish the dram, but it's still not spectacular. And chocolate doesn't fix it...

4 years ago 0

@WhiskyBee
WhiskyBee commented

@Nozinan - Yes, $92 is way too much. Even the 60 (up to 70) now was about 10 bucks too much. Had some right after warming up with an HP 12 recently and discovered I preferred the HP (still the most reliable budget dram for me).

4 years ago 0

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