Bowmore 23 Year Old 1989 Port Matured Review

This is a 23 year Bowmore matured in a Port cask and released in 2013 as a limited edition. It’s bottled at 50.8% ABV.

Nose: Loads of peat/sweet notes up front, I like where this is going – the peat is much stronger than I expected for a malt of this age – some white pepper and a slight milk/dairy note in the background.

Palate: Peat again is quite strong – quite raisiny/sweet with a bit of honey. Slightly ashy with a dash of pepper.

Finish: Peat lingers for quite a long time along with a grape juice note.

Rating: 91/100 – I’m a huge sucker for peat + wine finishes, so this one is right up my alley.

Value for the money: Looks like the price ranges a lot on this one as it’s not widely available anymore, but you can get it between $450-550 it looks like. I’d pass at that price as you can get good peat/wine combos for much cheaper e.g. Longrow Red series.

Bowmore 12 (70s squat bottle) Review

This is an old release (Italy specific bottling I believe) of the Bowmore 12 that was distilled in the mid 70s. It’s bottled at 43% ABV.

Nose: Strong putty/clay up front turning into heavy vegetal notes with an odd metallic note in there. Overripe apples emerging with some guava, cantaloupe, and some subtle acetone.

Palate: Metallic note leads off with earthy, musty oak following. Pineapple comes in behind the oak while it turns quite malty.

Finish: Fairly short finish with subtle oak and vegetal notes.

Rating: 85/100 – Nice to try a Bowmore from this era – it avoids the FWP notes of the 80s, but it also misses a lot of the beautiful tropical fruits from the 60s (although it has hints of those fruits).

Value for the money: At auction these seem to be going for around €300 or so. I’d pass at that price, but would pay up to maybe $150 or so.

Bowmore 15 Feis Ile 2012 Review

This is a 15 year Bowmore from Feis Ile 2012 that was finished in sherry casks and bottled at 55.4% ABV.

Nose: Peat balanced beautifully with a heavy sherry influence, strong ash notes with guava, mint, smoky barbecue and smoked trout.

Palate: Rich sherry with perfectly balanced peat again, smoked meats and mulling spices.

Finish: Peat lingers with rich sherry and smoldering wood chips.

Rating: 93/100 – I’ve become more and more a big fan of sherry/wine finishes on strong peated whiskies, and this hits all those notes perfectly.

Value for the money: I think this originally retailed for £170 or so, but I’m sure it sold out in minutes and who knows what it went for after, but I’d be comfortable paying up to around $300 for a bottle of this if it were available on shelves still.

SMWS 3.235 “The happy camping holiday” (Bowmore 26) Review

This is a 26 year Bowmore from the Scotch Malt Whisky Society that was matured in ex-bourbon refill casks and bottled at 50.9% ABV.

Nose: Mellow peat with flowery malt up front before weathered oak begins to emerge. Honeycombs, cotton candy, and granny smith apples appear after a bit.

Palate: Wow – this is my first experience with what I believe is FWP Bowmore. This term was coined awhile back by the PLOWED society I believe. It describes a period of Bowmore that took on a very perfumey/floral character (FWP stands for French Whore Perfume). I’ve avoided Bowmores from the 80s primarily because of what is said about most of those bottlings. All that being said, this expression tastes at first like you’re eating fresh flower petals – almost sickly sweet floral notes. Old peat and oak are there along with some beeswax, but overall it’s dominated by those massive floral notes.

Finish: Floral notes persist long after with bubble gum, bitter oak, and peat.

Rating: 80/100 – I can’t  say the FWP notes are objectively bad or make this a bad whisky, but they certainly throw the balance way out of whack and are unlike anything I’ve tasted in another whisky. If you really dig floral notes, this is probably about as strong as they get.

Value for the money: This retailed for $205 on the SMWSA shop and I would not buy again at that price. In general, it’s not a bad price for a 26 year expression, but perhaps I’ve avoided these 80s Bowmores for good reason.

Bowmore 30 Year Sea Dragon Review

This is a 30 year Bowmore that was bottled in the mid 90s putting it in mid 60s distillate. The 1960s Bowmore bottlings are very highly regarded as some of the best Bowmore has produced. They tend to have a tropical fruit profile which was lost in the Bowmore profile starting in the 70s unfortunately. This was bottled at 43% ABV.

Nose: Subtle peat with very strong peach notes alongside tangerines, subtle oak, and lemon juice.

Palate: Again peat is fairly minimal here with the peach note really taking the forefront. Citrus, mango, apples, pineapple, and cinnamon round it out. Delicate overall but complex.

Finish: Oak dries out with peat lingering on with green apples, peaches, and vanilla.

Rating: 96/100 – One of the best malts I’ve ever had – I’d love to try more of these 60s Bowmores. It’s a shame there aren’t any distilleries out there making these stonefruit heavy malts anymore.

Value for the money: These go for $1200+ on the secondary which is a relative bargain compared to many of the other 60s Bowmore bottlings. If you’re looking for something from that era that is relatively affordable, this would be a great one to start with.

Bowmore 16 (Wilson & Morgan Selection) Review

This is a sherry finished 16 year Bowmore selected by Wilson & Morgan and bottled at 56.6% ABV.

Nose: Quite earthy but fruity at the same time. Peat is minimal with some wet clay and vanilla. Bottle shows a sherry finish, but I wouldn’t have guessed that from the nose alone.

Palate: Peat is stronger here with caramelized apples, earthy malt, and sherry seasoned oak.

Finish: Peat dials it up here with musty oak lingering.

Rating: 86/100 – Sherry influence is negligible, but a good teenaged Islay.

Value for the money: This cost around $100, but I’d be more comfortable around $70-$80.

Bowmore Devil’s Cask Batch 1 Review

This is a limited release from Bowmore that is a 10 year expression that was matured in first fill sherry butts and bottled at 56.9% ABV.

Nose: Smoky bbq with distinct malt coming through. Musty oak with heavy sherry notes.

Palate: Burnt meats and smoky charcoal – still rather malt forward but with burnt oak and sherry taking on a hint of sulphur.

Finish: Bit of sulphured sherry here too with seaweed drenched in heavy smoke

Rating: 84/100 – Interesting, sherry is somewhat minimal for a sherry matured malt even for a 10 year malt. Smoke was pretty dominant in this dram which was an interesting counter to the sweeter sherry notes.

Value for the money: These go for around $250 since they have been out of production for sometime. I’d value this around $70 personally and would be happy to pay that.