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Bowmore 18 Year Old

Average score from 11 reviews and 29 ratings 80

Bowmore 18 Year Old

Product details

  • Brand: Bowmore
  • Bottler: Distillery Bottling
  • ABV: 43.0%
  • Age: 18 year old

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Bowmore 18 Year Old

I've never encountered a Bowmore that I found to be even remotely palatable. This include the few I've sampled and the many I've vicariously sampled (nosed them while others complained about the lack of palatability).

Nose: some residual vomit (see previous review of Bowmore 15), dull earthy peat, sugary-candy.

Palate: saccharine arrival with mild spice and watery peat. Thin and treacly overall.

Finish: nice bit of spice on the finish. Red fruits and watery sugar that dulls over time to reveal a vegetal note.

Seriously, how does Bowmore make money putting stuff like this out? It has deterred me from buying any Bowmore, including IB's. I'm sure they make some decent stuff....somewhere. I'll wait for a sample from a friend.

Bowmore can have this effect on people. I see it as a niche flavour profile. They have a very specific set of flavours that may or may not suit your palate. I rarely love Bowmore, but I think it's an interesting and different distillery. Agreed, though, that the 18 is a lesser whisky. There's a soapy floral note that I can't get past in that one. As suggested, the Laimrig and the Tempest are better, but still quintessentially Bowmore. If you don't like the core range I'm sure you won't like those ones either. Thanks, @TheConscience for your very frank write-up.

@hunggar (is that a kung fu reference?), interesting assessment. As noted above, a main concern for me is that the entire range possesses this quintessential "Bowmore" profile you observe that offers only variation on (for me) the terrible Bowmore theme. I am willing to give it a shot if the output from me is minimal (i.e. not purchasing a bottle).

@Bluenote, I like the balance of Uggy, and thought it was competent, but overall I found it to be underwhelming. I had a recent batch, so not sure if that had anything to do with it. I actually enjoy the Benriach 12 peated PX much more than Uigedail. I would love to try Laphroaig 18. I sampled some Laphroaig recently that I quite enjoyed.


This is the last of the Trio. This one had only about 10-12 cc left so I poured a very few ccs into my glencairn.

The nose gave me an initial hint of something interesting but was gone before I could grasp it. Almost like a sweet pink or violet coloured rose. nothing else

The palate, neat, is thin, with a sweetness to it, not unpleasant. But very little complexity.

With a few (very few) drops of water, the nose stayed the same, the pleasant taste was gone.

Hard to believe this is selling for 77GBP in the UK, that's $140 Canadian! I could get (and enjoy more) 2 bottles of Forty Creek Evolution for that price...

Even though it was only 5 cc, I did not finish the dram.

The last 5 cc were saved and mixed with....

the other two (12 YO and 15YO darkest) Ratio of 12:15:18 = 2:2:1

I'll leave this to marry a while and maybe review it at some point (or just add a note here).

Hi @Nozinan, I would say that "very little complexity" describes this single malt quite well. I remember that I reviewed this about a year ago and that I found it incredibly bland. It is astonishing that this should be the 18-year old flagship of a well-established whisky distillery. Quite boring, at least in my opinion.


The reviewed sample is courtesy of @Nock. The bottle has been open for six months and is 75% full. This is a standard distillery bottling

Nose: the classic Bowmore style of medium peat, somewhat to the sweet side, leather, and a little brine, comes through beautifully here

Taste: the palate tilts significantly to the sweet side, but otherwise Bowmore 18 tastes just as it smells. Jim Murray describes this one as Fisherman's Friend style cough medicine sweet, and it does have some of this characteristic. This is pleasant, though

Finish: on sweet and bitter peat and leather

Balance: Well, Bowmore polarises, at all ages, including the young, the old and this 18 yo. I like all of the Bowmores OK, including the much-maligned McClelland's Islay Single Malt. This 18 yo is a great example of the mainstream Bowmore style, and shows all of Bowmore's house style characteristics in full mature prototypical fashion. I don't consider it high whisky art, but I like it and I enjoy drinking it

@Victor I must admit my 17 is still stockpiled for opening later. I hope to open it once I secure a bottle of 18 yr and try them side by side over time. I will certainly let you know my experience once I do.

@Victor I just had a dram of this Bowmore 18 and I love it. My experience of it is similar to your experience with two noticeable differences. I have oil (petroleum) and some faint ashes. That put the 18 way ahead of the Tempest and the McClelland's for me. In fact in may becomes my reference as a refine peated Scotch.


A few years ago, having loved Bowmore 12 and 15 Darkest, this was top of my wishlist for quite a few months. I think I first tried it at Christmas about 5 years ago and instantly loved it.

I've not tried it for a while, (in fact I think my last sample of it was actually in Bowmore Hotel in summer 2011). Also noticed it doesn't have exactly glowing reviews on here so here's my take....

Nose: Cocoa Powder and dark chocolate. Rich dark fruits, perhaps plums or dates. A tiny touch of spice and some subtle underlying smokiness.

Palate: Chocolate again but more like milk chocolate now. Slightly spicier than the nose with a bit of fruit that I cannot quite pinpoint. Apples perhaps? Citrus? Maybe a bit of salt. Smoke gradually seeps through but less noticeably than in younger expressions.

Finish: Short/Medium and a bit insipid - this is its failing. Some smokiness but overall a bit too bitter. Does dry quite nicely however.

Well I personally love the flavours of Bowmore so I was never going to score this one low. It just lacks a bit of body... What it needs is to do is come out of the dark ages and get with the 21st century trends. Remove the chill-filtration, (and probably colouring too), and increase the ABV a few percent. This might even improve the finish also.

So for flavour this is fantastic. For finish and body....could be a bit better.


It has been over two weeks since I posted Part I of this (in which I looked at the Bowmore 12) - needless to say, it has been a busy time in work and in life! But on this quiet Thursday night, I have found time to write before I catch up on the Oscar movies I haven't had a chance to watch yet (tonight: Captain Philips).

The Bowmore 18 was launched in January 2007, and is now part of the standard Bowmore range. It is made up of malts from both European and American oak casks, though I'm not sure of the ratio between bourbon and sherry.

The colour is a deep mahogany. On the nose, dark chocolate, saltines, brine and some subtle peat. Floral, with a little coconut. Sultana raisins. Slightly mushroomy, vegetal (asparagus?) Seems slightly imbalanced between the musty earthiness and the floral peat, but regardless, very interesting depth. Water brings a bit more peat forward.

On the palate, a peaty tang with a bit of smoke - again, not quite balanced between the peat, plums, raisins and chocolate. All those elements are quite delicious but the somehow don't quite coalesce. As with the nose - very interesting but not altogether successful. Water doesn't seem to improve the palate, adding a sour note.

The finish is where things get a little rough - damp earth (not quite approaching campfire), chalkiness and that slightly sour note. Somehow three more years did not improve upon the 15 year old (though I am sure the 15 has more sherry cask influence). It also doesn't have the vibrancy of the 12 year old.


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 18-year old expression was introduced in 2007, at the time replacing the 17-year old, and has been a part of the Bowmore core range ever since.

The nose is rather sweet, with a lot of caramel and honey flavours and accompanied by some chocolate. Very soft smoke lingers in the background, alongside some light notes of sherry.

The palate is medium-bodied, sweet and peppery. It is lightly fruity, with prunes and lemons taking center stage. Similarly to the nose chocolate flavours make an appearance.

The finish is of medium length, with soft smoke, orange and caramel flavours intermingling. Towards the end this was getting drier and drier.

A number of people told me that this needed time to open up. Well, I did take my time but still this single malt never quite got to me. It is not badly balanced, nor is it badly made, it is just… bland. Neither any rough edges, nor the elegance that one would have expected from an 18-year old. In short: boring.

At least the bottle that I had was rather dull, and I do hope that it had nothing to do with batch variation. I remember that while I loved my first bottle of the 12yo I was very disappointed by the second one that I bought more than a year later. In my opinion a distillery like Bowmore should be able to produce similar batches over the years.

I had a similar opinion about this expression, though, I was less harsh than you. Maybe I wasn't expecting much to be sufficiently disappointed.

Thanks for the great review!


I think Bowmore is a dependable distillery with some solid expressions (Tempest Batch 2) and some not-so-solid expressions (Mariner & Enigma). And that's what makes a distillery exciting and human, in my opinion. So when I uncorked the 18 year old I had no idea what to expect.

The nose is salty and instantly reminds you of a dank warehouse. The musty smell, I imagine, can be found in the actual Bowmore warehouses housing all the maturing casks. From within the salty sea spray then comes a warm mix of bananas, tangerines and peaches followed by nutty peat and a touch of iodine. The final flourish is unmistakeable butterscotch.

The palate is strong and oaky with a vigorous application of dark spice rub. Bananas and nuts then decide to make a come back accompanied by something pleasantly sweet

The woody medium finish is, of course, peaty with a touch of salt and fennel. There is, though, a hint of something bitter but it's faint enough not to be a nuisance.

I have not had this one for a couple of years, but I thought it was quite good then. I don't know why Jim Murray dislikes it so much. I do have the Travel Retail version of Bowmore 17 and I like it very much. I think I will try the 18 again and do a head to head with the 17. Thanks for the good review @tabarakRazvi.

@BlueNote thanks for reading. Check out my whisky blog when you have the time maltactivist.com


This is an interesting dram with a really nice nose and finish, but a so-so palate. Very different and unusual, but somewhat addictive with peat and dark fruit, kinda like the music of George Clinton (think Parliament or Funkadelics). When I drink it I think it is weird, but then a week or so later, I want it again. I think now I'll put on some "Atomic Dog" and chill. (Bow-wow-wow yipee-yo-ki-a).

'Kinda Funky'? Well, it is BOWMORE, after all.

Bowmore is highly polarising, in general. I've always liked most of the Bowmores ok, but the 18 yo is pretty damned expensive for not being a lot different, or a lot better than, say, the 12 yo.

Thanks for your review, @Taco.

I like the 18 better than the 12 and 15 Darkest, but none of them enough to buy again.' I will say the 15's palate was the best of the three, but the nose and finish of the 18 was noticeably better. If Bowmore comes up with a bottle that has the better qualities of the three (18's nose and finish, 15's palate and the 12's price), I'd buy it.


Nose- Very typical Bowmore nose but with softer peat than other Bowmores. There's a creamy, vanilla-like scent to it, almost like a corn whisky. Behind that there are subtle fruit notes. It's a refined but subtle nose in general.

Taste- With the first sip rolling to the back of the tongue there is a sharp yet light fruit flavour. Very vibrantly fruity on the palate, but then the subtle peat starts to creep up and mingles on the palate. The creamy, vanilla-like note from the nose merges elegantly into the palate with the peat. It's almost like a campino candy was mixed with peated caramel (if such a thing existed).

Finish- The finish, like the nose, is subtle. It's of good length though, and slightly dries the mouth. The peat is most prevalent on the finish and gives a smokey note to it.

Overall- It's a smooth, subtle, and elegant whisky. I think that it's wonderfully balanced, but it's lacking a certain wow factor. Subtleness is the name of the game for this whisky, and it plays the game with gusto.


After tasting decent Bowmore Legend I had high expectations about it's elder 18yo brother. But my experience never met my expectations. I usually like the whisky I taste, more or less. But this time I hated it! I would not drink it even if offered a free drink. Why? Because of that aromatic cosmetic note in it's taste and finish. My mouth was full of cosmetic soap after a drink. Extremely unpleasant experience!

@Rbodnar to each their own my friend :) He could have also received a bad bottle. I've had some bottles at bars that I've absolutely loved and the same whisky (maybe not the same bottle) at the same bar and it's a ghostly pale reflection itself. I'd be really curious to see some tasting notes because I honestly wouldn't be surprised if it was a bad bottle/bad bar. etc.

But remember one thing, everyone's palate can be VERY different. I see that all the time at my beer tastings. :)

Hahaha I don't disagree that a 45 is extremely low score and is pretty much the equivalent of ok moonshine, but over time it's interesting to see how everyone's scoring system is different. A whisky that I'd score say 80, my brother in law scores 60, we both love it just as much, but his scoring system sits at below 50 he'd start going I probably won't care for this, while for me below 70 that's where I start going I might not like this one.

Like I said before everyone is different.


This was my third and final Bowmore (after the 12 year old and - very impressive - 15 year old Darkest): the 18 Year Old.

Since Bowmore is not a peatmonster (unlike several other Islay malts), the peat is still there, accompanied by ripe fruit and caramel toffee - not unlike Werther's Originals or Quality Street candy. Lovely. Diluting it with a bit of water makes this Bowmore give the best it's got to offer. Leave it for a few minutes and then take another whiff. You'll be pleasantly surprised.

While the palate is definitely complex with some fruit and chocolate, it was less impressive than the 15 Year Old Darkest expression - which hence became my favourite Bowmore. But this is still a very fine dram indeed!

The finish is long, dry and delicously warming. Great Islay dram!

I had the sampler 3 pack of 200ml each of the 12, 15 Darkest and the 18. I agree, markjedi1, the Darkest is the best and the only one I would consider buying in the full size bottle.

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