Bowmore 12 vs. Bowmore 18


A battle of the Bowmore’s today as we pit the 12 year old against the 18 year old.

Bowmore 12

Region: Islay

ABV: 40%

Price: £37

Our first Bowmore review for the site. It’s taken too long to get round to one of these, and having not tried the 12yo in years we’re hoping it’s still worth the wait.

Nose

We’re getting notes of sweet fruits and light peat alongside salty coastal notes, with some burnt branches, and remnants of a campfire. There’s also some toffee and vanilla custard in the background.

Palate

On the palate there’s an initial hit of sugar syrup. Actually this is possibly too sweet. There’s also some salted caramel, a little charcoal and bonfire smoke. Disappointingly there’s not a lot of mouthfeel here. Some light pepper spice on the finish that disappears too quickly. A bit bland to be honest.

Nose (with water)

With water the peat smoke leaves us, and nose becomes even sweeter. There’s also some light woodiness in the background.

Palate (with water)

With water the pepper spice is reduced, there’s a little bitter wood and some artificial vanilla. Mouthfeel remains non-existent. There’s also little alcohol and smoke on the palate at the end.

Conclusion

We love Bowmore, it’s one of our favourite Islay whiskies. Unfortunately this is probably the worst Bowmore we’ve ever tried. Bland, uninteresting, boring, the list goes on. Now we’re wondering if we’re suffering from rose tinted glasses, and if the 12yo was always this bad?

Score: 5/10


Bowmore 18

Region: Islay

ABV: 43%

Price: £75

It’s more than double the price of the 12 year old, but given how poor we thought  the 12 year old was, even with the extra cost this should be an easy win for the 18.

Nose

Initially there’s some dark red fruits, some yeasty bread, and dunnage warehouse scents. There’s a not quite blue cheese note, think a slightly past it’s prime cheese. Not a lot of smoke here, maybe a touch of ash, and finally some black tea leaves.

Palate

On the palate there’s an initial meaty note, like ham, think unsmoked ham. There’s also some earthy forest floor notes with red currants. Very little smoke at all, reasonable length finish but maybe a bit disappointing for 18yo. Some mouthfeel but a little thin overall.

Nose (with water)

With water we’re getting some sweet sherbet, nice light sherry notes of dried fruits, some cocoa nibs, with a backbone of oaky vanilla.

Palate (with water)

Water brings out the smoke on the palate, some dirt, some stewed apples with cinnamon, think apple pie. Finish is shorter, and disappears almost instantly. There’s a light alcohol bite at the end.

Conclusion

It’s better than the 12 year old, but not by enough to justify the price increase. Given that the 12 is poor, we’d just skip these Bowmore releases and look at a different Islay distillery. Ardbeg anyone?

Score: 5/10

  • 10 - Perfection. A whisky that we’ll remember forever.
  • 9 - Amazing. We’d pay through the nose for a bottle.
  • 8 - Great. Pick this up at RRP.
  • 7 - Good. Happy to have a dram or two but wouldn’t buy a bottle.
  • 6 - Passable. Would accept a dram, but wouldn’t seek it out.
  • 5 - Poor. Would drink if it was the only option.
  • 4 - Bad. Maybe it can be saved by ginger beer?
  • 3 - Awful. It can't be saved by ginger beer.
  • 2 - Pour it out
  • 1 - We’ve never tried a whisky rated this low and hopefully never will.

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