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Why are we so hard on Bowmore?

Take part in our whisky polls and votes. You can also post your own polls in this forum.

Why do you think Bowmore gets so much criticism on this site and elsewhere?

The perfume detected in some bottlings
6
18%
The confusing number of releases
0
No votes
The lack of an age statement on some
1
3%
Because they aren't as peaty as the "Big Three"
5
15%
Bandwagoning
13
38%
Other (let's hear it!)
9
26%
 
Total votes : 34

Why are we so hard on Bowmore?

Postby Rory B Bellows » Wed Feb 14, 2007 11:31 pm

I mostly hear negative comments about Bowmore, and even though its not my favourite, I still think some of their offerings are good malts (I especially like the length of the 12 year old). Why do you think this distillery gets this kind of treatment?
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Postby lbacha » Wed Feb 14, 2007 11:45 pm

I went with bandwagoning, I had someone go out of their way to try and convince me that the 17 tasted like perfume and this is what the FWP was all about, I tasted nothing but a good dram that had a great mix of malt and smoke with a nice bitter chocolate finish to it. I think the malt has some more floral notes than other islay whiskies but perfume, no way. One of my favorite open bottles right now is the Bowmore enigma and I'm going to be upset when it is gone.

Len
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Postby Deactivated Member » Thu Feb 15, 2007 12:05 am

Bowmore is the real love-it-or-hate-it dram. It gets lots of positive and negative comment here. On the whole, I simply do not like it--there is something odd in the flavor that does not agree with me. But it is not the dread FWP, and it bugs me when that comes up again and again, when very few people have ever really experienced it. People just parrot that because they think that's what they should call what they're tasting. If that's what you mean by bandwagoning, it's true. Just because you don't care for it doesn't mean it's tainted.

We've had long, long discussions on this before, Rory, and in a way, I'm sorry to see it come up again*, because for months on end it was "FWP, FWP, FWP" on and on. It's grossly unfair to a fine and reputable distillery whose product is simply not my favorite. I hope we can discuss it this time without seeing those three letters over and over.

I vote "other"--because many people, like me, simply don't like it.


*But it's a fair question and I don't mean to criticize you for raising it.
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Postby peergynt323 » Thu Feb 15, 2007 12:39 am

I didn't say other, but I would add that they use a lot of finishes, which many people believe is used to hide subpar whisky. And their bottlings are widely available, which can be a turn-off, as with most anything in life.
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Postby Mustardhead » Thu Feb 15, 2007 1:01 am

I've never detected the infamous FWP in Bowmore, only in Glen Garioch :)

Personally I don't think Bowmore is a love it or hate it whisky. I just think the basic entry level whisky is a bit boring in comparison with Laphroaig, Lagavulin and Ardbeg. The older whiskies, the finishes and the cask strength stuff make the old Legend look like a silly idea....
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Postby Lugarteniente » Thu Feb 15, 2007 1:08 am

Bowmore is by far the best islay distillery at the moment.

For me regular expressions of ardbeg and laphroaig are one-dimensional and bourbony. Only peat and bourbon, peat and bourbon...

Lagavulin 16 is a more ordinay malt than bowmore 17 for example.

Bowmore 21 is a winner and beats all the malts in the same range.

My opinion
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Postby Scotchio » Thu Feb 15, 2007 1:41 am

The danger with the whole FWP thing is that people coming to the whisky for the 1st time may be looking for it and decide that the perfumy floral quality of the peat is the FWP flaw.
I'm sure there has been bottles with FWP but I havent had any of them. I like the floral quality as a distinct part of Bowmores profile and i like the complexity I find in many of their bottlings, to me it's a well balanced mid peated whisky which often has a nice sherry element in the OB bottles.
Some people may disregard it as not peaty enough but that doesnt mean it's not a good whisky.
Regarding finishes i am always wary of single cask indi bottlings that have been finished. In Bowmore's case i think it's very much about brand presense ie same idea as Morangie and Laddie and not an attempt to hide anything.
I often have a bottle of Bowmore open and they rarely last very long. I'm not voting for anything either as I like to think people are smart enough to keep an open mind. Whiskies are always changing and none should be dismissed.
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Postby Admiral » Thu Feb 15, 2007 4:02 am

I voted "Other" and here's why:

The bottlings simply aren't as good as they were 5 - 10 years ago. I don't know whether it has anything to do with Jim McEwan leaving, or whether there was a change in wood policy or how they run the stills, or their malt specification, or ??????, but the general quality of Bowmore 12yo has simply gone downhill. IMHO, of course.

Cheers,
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Postby Wave » Thu Feb 15, 2007 7:00 am

Bowmore IMO compared to the other Islays (including Bunna) is harsher, it's real apparent in the reletively new released OB cask strengths from the Islay distilleries that include Ardbeg, Bowmore, Bruichladdich ('89 1st Ed.), Caol Ila, Lagavulin, and Laphroaig. The Bowmore seems to be harsher, grittier and with an odd taste I just can't put my finger on. :?

I agree with Lugarteniente though about the Bowmore 21. It was a true classic, unfortunately it's been several years since I've seen one grace the shelves at any of the liquor stores I frequent. :( Luckily I still have a miniature of it left. :wink:


Cheers!
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Postby Thesh » Thu Feb 15, 2007 8:17 am

I have a bottle of Bowmore Darkest. I don't know exactly what it is, but there is just something that I don't like about it. I wanted to like it, but I didn't. Even if that something wasn't there, I wouldn't be overly impressed with it anyway.
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Postby Deactivated Member » Thu Feb 15, 2007 9:50 am

I have used Bowmore quite extensively in my recent tastings, using:

Bowmore 12
Bowmore CS
Bowmore Dawn
Bowmore Dusk
Bowmore Darkest

The CS was described as good, but quite ordinary in flavour.
The 12 was also seen as quite ordinary

These were not negative comments, they were just comments which were used to mean a good dram, but nothing exceptional and not too complex in flavours.
The Dawn, Dusk and Darkest were all praised, with the Dusk being voted "Best Whisky" on an evening of some rather good drams!

I think that many people perceive Islay whiskies as being peat, iodine, peat, some smoke and more peat. This means that something like Bowmore which doesn't conform to this stereotypical perception, often gets slated as being "no good".
This is just not true, it may not be to your individual taste, but it is still a good whisky.

Personally, I see Islay as a whisky region offering various very different types of whiskies. These may vary from Bowmore's light smoke, not much peat but a whole range of flavours, to Bruichladdich's very fruity character, Caol Ila and Bunny with their unique flavours which always remind me not of peat, but of Scottish sea air and jetties.
Then we get the much peatier drams of Ardbeg, Laphroaig and Lagavulin.
Port Ellen is somewhere inbetween, possibly leaning towards the peaty ones, then I look forward to seeing where Kilchoman slots into this myriad of flavours. But as I say, although renowned for the amount of peat in the whiskies, Islay is much more, offering a very wide variety of flavours and styles.

But that's just my own opinion.
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Postby Reggaeblues » Thu Feb 15, 2007 12:40 pm

Last night, after a few Valentine drams the last of which was a uigeadal, i was washing my face hurriedly in anticipation of hopping into bed with the Mrs...Anyway, I was using some brown soap - I think it was "Wright's coal tar " soap or somesuch. some of it got in my mouth. It instantly reminded me of ...Bowmore!

All I can say, is it's the best bar of soap I ever tasted - nice smoky, tarry finish reminiscent of the distillery in question!

Is this a clue to the FWP debate?

I agree the 12 has changed from the first I had about 7 years ago - back then it was more floral/lavender/heather atop the smoke. Two years ago I had one that was weak and watery, but last week had a dram in a pub that was much better...though I suspected the addition of caramel as it was darker and sweeter than I recall.

that said, over the past 3 years i have thoroughly enjoyed 2 bottles of Darkest, 1 of Dusk, a 15, a 17( especially good) and a "First Cask" 22 YO single cask which was ...stunning - Bowmore personified and amplified...and sadly unrePEATable. i currently have the 16 YO bourbon finish which is a little bit disappointing, tho' with the addition of a little water its "bowmoreness' lifts it above being a "gentler Lagavulin 12(a grrreat dram!)"

Overall, I'd say Bowmore at its best is a distinctive and classy Islay whisky, obviously related to, but apart from the "Big 3" on the southern coast.
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Postby The Dazzler » Thu Feb 15, 2007 12:41 pm

I think Bowmores biggest problem is that it suffers from an identitiy crisis, it does not seem to have a place. It certainly is not as powerful on smoke and peat as Ardbeg, Laphroaig and Lagavulin and therefore is constantly overlooked by folks looking for that heavy peat fix. Bowmore does not claim to be a powerful smoky and peaty dram. Bruichladdich the coastal Islay option and Bunnahabhain the lighter Islay option have their place. I think since Bowmore has clear cut smoke and peat character, (however overall a much lighter dram), the should market the brand as the introduction to Islay whiskies, for me it is perfect for folks who find the stronger brands that wee but too much, if people want to taste smoke and peat without being blown away by it the Bowmore works well.

I also think the new 18yo should pick up some new fans, it is very oily and smooth on the pallate which is quite syrupy and sweet with late peat and spices on the finish, the aromas are of lemon, coconut and chocolate, this will hopefully help the Bowmore brand to a new lease of life!!!

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Postby Deactivated Member » Thu Feb 15, 2007 12:51 pm

Personally, I think Bowmore is more challenging than the Laphroaig, Lagavulin and Ardbeg axis. The famous peaty whiskies rely purely on peat, smoke and iodine. These flavours are also available in most older Bowmores in abundance, and some of the smokiest Bowmores easily rival the other three. But Bowmore has got more. It also has saltiness; herbs; meat; spices and floral flavours. It has a pungency that is more Islay than the traditional Islays. I've never been a fan of the Bowmore 12, but the 15 and 17 are powerful drams - and the Voyage, too, was stonking stuff. I think that the reason Bowmore is dissed so much is because it is too extreme - not because it is less powerful than the supposed peat monsters.
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Postby bamber » Thu Feb 15, 2007 12:57 pm

I like it, but it does have a very flowery edge. I can see why some people would not like that.

Not had a bottle for quite a while. Maybe I should.
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Postby Mr Fjeld » Thu Feb 15, 2007 1:23 pm

I've only tried Surf and the 17. I liked the first one as a simple and easy whisky to enjoy anywhere and anytime - maybe perfect for the hip flask?
The 17 is one among my favourites and apart from the floral character (lavender? ) it also has a lovely smoked bacon scent.

I won't contradict the FWP findings but can honestly say I haven't found anything like that myself. I do think quite a few "see ghosts in broad daylight" as we would say in Norway.
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Postby Deactivated Member » Thu Feb 15, 2007 1:41 pm

Now I understand just what people are talking about with "FWP"
:lol:

Shame on me for not knowing this, but it seems I have led a sheltered life.
:oops:

http://www.whiskymag.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=2443
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Re: Why are we so hard on Bowmore?

Postby corbuso » Thu Feb 15, 2007 3:47 pm

Rory B Bellows wrote:I mostly hear negative comments about Bowmore, and even though its not my favourite, I still think some of their offerings are good malts (I especially like the length of the 12 year old). Why do you think this distillery gets this kind of treatment?


Bowmore used to produce excellent whiskies during the 1960s and beginning seventies. They might have been more sloppy in production or wanted to save money during the 80-90s by buying cheaper (and lower quality) casks to mature their spirit and this might have resulted in a lower quality product or it is just that the quality has move from excellent to that time period?
I don't know, but some recent Bomwores, like the 1989 CS OB was very good.

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Postby Ardbeg311 » Thu Feb 15, 2007 5:26 pm

The distillery has produced some legendary bottles as we all know. Regarding the present range, I just have not found a bottle that I enjoyed very much. The 17yo is supposed to be a solid dram, but I found it to be rather ho-hum. It certainly didn't inspire me to go out and buy another bottle of it. I might feel differently about the 21yo+ bottles once I try them. Having tried the bottles in the basic range, I can leave them behind or revisit them at a much later time.
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Postby Reggaeblues » Thu Feb 15, 2007 6:34 pm

Ardbeg 311 on bowmore 17:"It certainly didn't inspire me to go out and buy another bottle of it."

Funny, I just posted another thread about why some whiskies take some getting to know, whilst others are instant hits.

i got through a whole bottle of Talisker 18, and concluded that it was very nice but... i prefferred the fire of the 10. then, last night on a jogwalk, i dropped into my local and was surprised to find they hd a T18. six months after finishing my bottle, i had a dram...and was amazed by it's delicacy, and unfolding of layers, in a similar way that the Ardbeg '77 hit me!

I loved the Bowmore 17 perhaps best of all the OB's that i've tried.

i'm just suggesting you might be surprised one day down the road if you come across it again.

On the other hand...i just remmebered it's being discontinued. Oh well...
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Postby lbacha » Thu Feb 15, 2007 7:04 pm

Malt-Teaser wrote:Now I understand just what people are talking about with "FWP"
:lol:

Shame on me for not knowing this, but it seems I have led a sheltered life.
:oops:

http://www.whiskymag.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=2443


At least we know you arn't on the bandwagon. :lol: :lol:
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Postby Ardbeg311 » Thu Feb 15, 2007 10:33 pm

Reggaeblues wrote:Ardbeg 311 on bowmore 17:"It certainly didn't inspire me to go out and buy another bottle of it."

Funny, I just posted another thread about why some whiskies take some getting to know, whilst others are instant hits.
I loved the Bowmore 17 perhaps best of all the OB's that i've tried .....i'm just suggesting you might be surprised one day down the road if you come across it again.


I indeed might be surprised the next time I try it and that is why I would never refuse to give it a go the next time around. Unlike the JW Black, Richardson's Traditional Blend, and Glen Grant 5yo (which are simply awful whiskies and will probably never change for the better), I know most of the single malts change their taste over time, and yes, my taste will change as well. However, since there is a limit to my funds, I prefer to buy bottles that have either proven themselves on my palate or that are completely new -- Bowmore bottles included! It is not that the Bowmore 17 is bad, it is just that, since there are plenty of new and terrific whiskies out there clamoring for my money, it will be a while before I buy another bottle. A free dram somewhere is another matter! :)
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Postby Drrich1965 » Fri Feb 16, 2007 12:21 am

Below are my ratings of the Bowmore's I have tried. The range from my perception of an average single malt, which would be 75, to outstanding. A quick eyeball of my list shows some indys that I thought were wonderful, so so OBs that were just decent to good. For those of you who shope at Binnys, the 1982 Primemalt was welpriced and wonderful. Tasting narrative for that one follows the scores.

80 Sm Bowmore Cask Strenght (56% circa 2006)
87 Sm Bowmore 12yo 1992 (46%, Signatory, Un-chillfiltered Collection, Cask 2228)
80 Sm Bowmore 12yo (43%, OB, circa. 2005)
83 Sm Bowmore 15yo Mariner (43%, OB, 2006)
79 Sm Bowmore 16yo 1989 (51.8%, OB)
75 Sm Bowmore 16yo 1989 (51.8%, OB)
82 Sm Bowmore 17yo (43%, OB, circa. 2004)
90 Sm Bowmore 18yo (40%, Oak Barrel;Trader Joe's by Alexander Murray & Co.Broxburn)
88 Sm Bowmore 1982 21yo (46%, Primemalt, Duncan and Taylor, NC, UCF)
87 Sm Bowmore 30yo 'Sea dragon' (43%, OB)
82 Sm Bowmore Darkest (43%, OB, circa. 2004)
75 Sm Bowmore Dusk (50%, OB, circa. 2005)
75 Sm Bowmore Legend (43%, OB)


This is a wonderful malt. Balanced, sweet, gentle peat. Great butterscotch and vanilla on the palate, natural toffee. Perhaps would like liked a bit more peat for some added intensity and balance, but this was almost a classic, and probably worth finding another bottle. Shared this with friends in SF while at a conference, January 2006. Everyone loved this one, the first old single malt for several of my old pals. A worthy malt. The best few moments with this bottle: A dram with Will overlooking the bay, a chilly afternoon that called for the warmth of peat; a couple of drams with Marc while watching The Seventh Seal, and sitting in his garden overlooking Mount Tam, where Gil's ashes lie; and a dram with Ben, Jeff and Manoj in my conference hotel room. Moments like that are what make malts so special.

Clearly, I like Bowmore. There is something middle of the road about it that I find satifying, and I think the non sherried expressions seem to bring out its best.
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Postby Deactivated Member » Fri Feb 16, 2007 5:30 am

Rich, you call the Primemalt an '82 in your text and an '88 in your list. I don't really care, but I thought you might like to put it right.
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Postby Aidan » Fri Feb 16, 2007 8:57 am

I think Bowmore 12 is like Glenmorangie 10 with extra peat. Doesn't do it for me at all.

The 17 yr old is wonderful.

I tasted some 2 yr old and 3 yr old sherry casked Bowmore at the distillery, and it was great even at this age, so I think there's great things ahead.

I've said it elsewhere, but when Bowmore is good, it's great.
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Postby DramMeister » Sun Feb 18, 2007 9:38 pm

I don't know why people put down Bowmore. You may not like its style but it's quite different to any other distillery. I'm all for variety. Get off their backs :x
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Postby Spirit of Islay » Sun Feb 18, 2007 10:43 pm

First off i've never had a Bowmore suffering from the "Famous" FWP but i will say that over the years i think Bowmores taste (or it could be mine ) has changed and i would say for the worse ( Bowmore's not mine !!!!!) .
When i was first going over to Islay the 10yo was a stella dram as were the others , the 15yo was excellent , never could get away with the 17yo tho .
I would say the 1964 Bourbon cask is one of the all time great drams , i've been to a few of the Feis Ile masterclasses and we've had some fantastic cask samples (5 and 10yo from Bourbon and Sherry casks ) but I can't remember the last time i had a good new standard release . I personally think the distillery (or should it be the people working for Bowmore i.e. marketing ) has gotten arrogant over the past few years . They are set in their ways , don't want to know about 46% / UCF / non-colouring ( the Bowmore drinkers want it at 43% we were told at a MC by the marketing guy , connoiseurs - like us - account for only 2% of sales...... The same guy denied Enigma was coloured even tho it said Mit Farbstoff on the back!!!) .
Maybe it's about time they moved into the 21st century for the sake of some of their former and present employees .
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Postby vitara7 » Mon Feb 19, 2007 12:59 am

this month its bowmore, last month it was bruichladdich, next moth well find another distillery to bitch about, we need somthing to moan about... so in a nut shell, theanser to your question is bandwagoning
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Postby Admiral » Mon Feb 19, 2007 3:53 am

Personally, I think Bowmore is more challenging than the Laphroaig, Lagavulin and Ardbeg axis.


Nick makes a really good point there. Bowmore has stuff going on beyond the peat & smoke, and it can/does add to the complexity. It's certainly more fragrant, dare I say floral, and this contrast with the smoke can be a real winner. But it's only a winner when the floral characteristics enhance & improve the smoke. There's been a few bottlings where the floral characteristics has clashed or fought with the smoke in a very unbalanced fashion, resulting in a reasonaly unpleasant dram. I'm confident this is what many people find disagreeable.

Cheers,
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Postby Rudy » Tue Feb 20, 2007 12:00 am

I had the Bowmore Surf and 12yo about a decade ago, although I can’t remember opening the 12yo. Hmmm….Korsakov?

In some hth comparisons (OB vs IB) we noticed a difference. The OB was described as ‘soapy’, and to me that was the right definition. So I would vote for ‘other’.

One of my favourites are certain ’68 Bowmores, with tropical fruit as the main description.

Lately I tasted some great independents with 11yo Bowmore, no soap at all!

So Bowmore to me is still a distillery that crafts decent drams!

Rudy.
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Postby Mustardhead » Tue Feb 20, 2007 12:12 am

My only problem with Bowmore is that the Legend and 12 year old are affordable but not all that exciting. Then the price doubles when you want to try one of the 15 year old models. A bottle of Darkest is more expensive than Glenmorangie 15 or Glenlivet 18, which is unacceptable to my ACME Grade II Frodometer ;)
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Postby Reggaeblues » Mon Mar 05, 2007 11:45 am

Aidan wrote(a while back!!)'"I' ve said it elsewhere, but when Bowmore is good, it's great."

I absolutely agree!

Last friday I was privileged to try two of the new ones...NOT at Whisky Live! I was in town and just had time to nip into my favourite whisky store, The vintage house in Soho. they seemed to be having their own Whisky Live!! I was offered several generous samples, including the "new" Bowmore 18 and Darkest.

Other great drams I tried were an 18 YO OMC Macallan wine-finished, an OMC 'Laddie, and a CS Bladnoch, straight from the barrel. They were all lovely...but it is the new Bowmore 18 I can "still taste" so to speak. That typical "Bowmore" note to the fore, but couched in rich sherry. Fantastic, but a bit pricey at only 43%...nearly £50.

It reminded me of the old Darkest at its best, but sweeter. I could have drunk the whole bottle! The new Darkest I tried second. It didn't have as strong a presence of that signiture Bowmore note...in fact it tasted like an old sherry Macallan! ...until the smoke crept in. I then went back to the 18, and it was definitely more "Bowmore". The new Darkest is still very nice, but I'd say softer than the old...and of the two I'd prefer the 18(if not the price)

I could still taste the 18 as my train pulled into East Croydon...

Anyone else come across these newBies yet??
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Postby les taylor » Mon Mar 05, 2007 2:56 pm

Hi Reggaeblues at Whisky live Bowmore had a stand. In the morning we had a 15 Year old darkest in the new packaging. We were very impressed with it and i'm definetly going to get some. I think its better than the old Darkest. Nice and sweet with the smoke and peat coming through at the end.

The 18 we tried as well but that was mid afternoon and I was getting a bit drammed out by then. So to make an objective point about it is difficult. It was good though.

It's a shame Bowmore has had some criticism because most of their range is pretty good.


:)
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Postby irishwhiskeychaser » Mon Mar 05, 2007 3:02 pm

My first Bowmore was a 12yo which I found very soapy and it put me off for a long long time. But I knew that I had to give it a fair go and not base my prejudice on one bottle.

Then I got the famed 17yo and I find it sublime so no complaints here......
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Postby Reggaeblues » Thu Mar 08, 2007 2:09 pm

Yeah, IWC, i rued the passing of my B17...lovely. It's still available at specialist shops...and still cheaper( and drier in character) than the new B18. But they are different animals, in that the new 18 is richer/more sherried...

...but they do both share what i call the unique "Bowmore" note that permeates all the best bottles I've had from them, from the first 12 i tried 7 years ago ( a bottle of 12 I was given 2 years ago was like dishwater in comparison!) to the best i ever had...an unrepeatable "First Cask" unblended 22 YO, given me by my Lucie's parents 2 christmasses ago...

When bowmore is good its fffantastic!
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