There’s whisky and then there are the single malts of the Scottish island of Islay, and chief among these coveted drops, are the whiskies of Bowmore.
When we think of single malts from Scotland, many of us have geographic preferences. Each of Scotland’s five main whisky-producing regions has its own distinct style, from the Highlands, where malts tend to be more robust, with pronounced flavours and aromas; and Speyside, whose malts are famed for their classic flavours of honey, vanilla, and ripe green fruit; to Campbeltown, generally considered the home of cask finished whiskies; and the Lowlands’ smooth, subtle spirits.
And then there are the single malts from the wind-whipped island of Islay, which are coveted among whisky lovers for their deep smoky notes. And chief among these acquired but revered drams are the whiskies of Bowmore, which are produced from malt that is carefully smoked in peat-fired kilns using skills honed over two centuries.
Bowmore whisky, part of the Suntory Beam brand family, has been produced at the Bowmore Distillery on Islay since 1779, making it the island’s oldest licenced producer. The distillery was established by local merchant John P. Simson but it was under its next owner, James Mutter, that it found its footing. Mutter would develop a series of innovations at the fledgling distillery – home to one of the world’s oldest Scotch maturation warehouses, the No. 1 Vaults – that would make it a formidable player on the island’s whisky scene and a brand recognised by whisky lovers from Bombay to Budapest.
In Asia, Bowmore is especially sought after, not only for its complex flavour profile and its smoky persona but also for its adherence to traditional production methods. A true community affair, Bowmore remains one of only a handful of distilleries that produces its own floor malted barley, which is hand-turned by a traditional wooden malt shovel and hand-drawn machinery. Water for Bowmore whiskies is specially drawn from the Laggan River, famed for its rich peaty overtones, and the resulting spirit is matured in ex-bourbon, sherry or claret oak casks in which it develops a rich and mellow persona.
It is this combination of peat, barley, sea breeze, water, wood, people and tradition that together create the perfectly balanced warm and smoky character of Bowmore Single Malt Scotch Whiskies.
Bowmore 12 Years Old
As the foundation of Bowmore’s core whisky range is its amber-hued 12 Years Old single malt, which features puffs of peat smoke balanced with pools of honey accents and framed by touches of tantalising lemon zest. The perfect whisky for inspired mixology and highballs, Bowmore 12 Years is both complex and approachable. It presents a perfectly balanced expression of Islay single malt, one that hints at its trademark peat smoke while boasting a long mellow finish that whisky aficionados and newbies alike can appreciate.
Look out for subtle hints of citrus, honey and freshly cut hay on the nose, as well as a lingering smokiness that continues onto the palate where it joins notes of sea spray and vanilla.
Bowmore 15 Years Old
Bowmore’s multi-award-winning 15 Years Old single malt takes the sense of discovery a little further, with those additional years under-barrel – first in ex-bourbon casks and then finished in ex-Oloroso casks – imparting distinctive hints of chocolate, dried cherries, muted campfire smoke and Corinthian raisins as well as a deep sienna colour.
Whisky lovers will discover that the dark chocolate and dried fruit give way to touches of cedar wood and rich treacle toffee on the palate, and hints of spice, sherry and barley during the long, luxurious finish, which makes this dram idea of elevated classics like the Rob Roy.
Bowmore 18 Years Old
An exceptional example of superbly aged Islay single malt, Bowmore’s 18 Years whisky is bottled at 43%ABV and boasts an unforgettable marriage of distinctive peat smoke and ripe fruit. One of the distillery’s rarest and most acclaimed bottlings, this mellow mahogany-hued dram boasts creamy caramel toffee notes punctuated by ripe fruit.
On the palate the complexity comes to play, with hints of chocolate and subtle smoke offering an ever-evolving flavour experience with a delightfully long, mellow finish that won it double gold at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition in 2018.
Bowmore 25 Years Old
A true expression of the distiller’s art, Bowmore’s 25 Years Old has been lovingly crafted and aged in bourbon and Oloroso casks for a quarter of a century to create a sublime single malt with rich complexity and a silk-like texture. Bottled at 43%ABV, Bowmore’s coveted 25 Years Old whisky marries elegant smoky notes with touches of delicious toffee and hazelnut in a whisky that will be appreciated with every sip.
On the nose, look for intense sherry and jammy stewed fruits, as well as that hallmark smoke and touches of cedar, cinnamon and tobacco. On the palate there’s a slightly salty complexity (there’s that sea air for you) with the fresh acidity of grapefruit and a thought of lavender that’s grounded with cloves.
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