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Bowmore Darkest

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Which is the best Bowmore?

Poll ended at Sun Jan 18, 2004 2:02 pm

Legend
0
No votes
12yo
0
No votes
Darkest
2
29%
17yo
3
43%
Other
2
29%
 
Total votes : 7
Related whiskies : Bowmore Darkest

Bowmore Darkest

Postby Admiral » Wed Jan 14, 2004 2:02 pm

This seemingly used to be a highly respected whisky.

(Certainly the price tag made it stand out against the regular Bowmore Legend, 12yo, and 17yo).

Although it is a few years old now, the 4th edition of Michael Jackson's Malt Whisky Companion gave it the thumbs up, a positive description, and a good score.

In Jim Murray's new book, the 2004 Whisky Bible, he slams the Darkest and gives it one of the worst scores in the whole book.

Has the Darkest changed in character very recently, or is Jim's palate simply not in sync with this malt? He describes it as a "young" whisky, but I thought it came from sherry casks in their mid-teens?

Can anybody provide more info?
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Postby Stephen » Wed Jan 14, 2004 3:51 pm

My favorite single malt is Bowmore 21yo.
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Postby hpulley » Wed Jan 14, 2004 4:03 pm

Darkest is finished in sherry casks. I think it is pretty much the 12yo plus 3 years in a butt.

Darkest used to be my favorite Bowmore. I found it to be better than Bowmore 17yo and Lagavulin 16yo at the time, better than Ardbeg TEN and 17yo as well, but the last bottle I got was terrible, just terrible. It had a horrible perfumey overtone. The first dram from the bottle seemed fine but with that little bit of airing out it got bad and went from bad to worse. By the end of the bottle it reminded me a lot of Zwack Unicum Bitters, a Hungarian herbal liqueur. Still made decent marinade for ribs but expensive marinade.

The Malt Madness site also gives it a bad score, 65/100 or thereabouts which I think is generous if they got a bottle from the same batch I did ($#!^ list for sure). If Jim got a bottle from that batch as well then I can see why he rates it where he does. I think MJ tasted it long ago from the first batch which was excellent.

At present I still like the 12yo and 17yo Bowmores but I'm afraid to buy a new bottle in case it is bad so I just get pub drams when I have a chance. I've heard good things about the current bottlings but I'm still alittle worried about being stuck with 750mL of swill. I'm also tending toward bottlings 46% ABV and higher now which crosses out many Bowmore offerings on the list, including Darkest.

Harry
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Postby peatreek1 » Wed Jan 14, 2004 7:04 pm

It appears to be hit or miss as far as Bowmore. Fortunately, I've never encountered an excessively perfumey bottle. I have a bottle of darkest open now, which I think is excellant, and have a second unopened bottle.

I can't blame anyone for giving up on the brand or distillery if they got stuck with a bad bottle. And enough people have reported bad Bowmores. There is no excuse for bad quality control.
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Postby hpulley » Wed Jan 14, 2004 7:10 pm

The LCBO has a good return policy for bad product but I wasn't aware of their open bottle procedures with the first bad bottle. The store I deal with now sees me often and knows me well so I don't have a problem returning to them. I was tempted to try Bowmore 17 again recently but passed again... maybe next time I'll be less gun shy.
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Postby Lawrence » Thu Jan 15, 2004 6:54 am

Maybe it's the caramel.........I wish they wouldn't do that but then it wouldn't be DARK now would it?
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Postby Aidan » Thu Jan 15, 2004 9:17 am

I was talking to the distillery manager of Bowmore - his favourate is the 17 yr old by far.
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Postby Boggen » Thu Jan 15, 2004 10:19 am

The best Bowmores - in my opinion - are dusk and dawn.

They are both semi-cask strength and taste very good even without adding water. What I also like about them is that the perfumery is almost gone.

The cask finish with port and claret suits them good.

Tasted a 17yo for a couple of weeks ago - and it was like tasting a perfurm boutique.
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Postby skywalker » Thu Jan 15, 2004 10:54 am

I don´t like any of the current Bowmore standard bottlings younger than 21yr, most of them have a soapy perfumed taste which I really don´t like. I enjoyed the 12yr old about 10 years ago, at that time there was no perfumy taste evident.
My favourite Bowmore is a 1968 from Hart Brothers.
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Postby SasquatchMan » Fri Jan 16, 2004 1:25 am

Interesting trend - if a guy has to go further and further back for a good bottling as time progresses, it seems to indicate a shift in quality for year x, doesn't it? hopefully things come back on-line for bowmore...
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Postby peatreek1 » Fri Jan 16, 2004 6:49 pm

I would note again, that none of the several different Bowmores I have purchased in recent years (including darkest) have been excessively perfumey so it is not a situation where things went bad in a given year. From what I have gathered from the comments of others, it appears as though there have been occasional bad batches. The question remains where was the quality control?
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Postby Oliver » Mon Jan 19, 2004 1:36 am

I have been quite disappointed with most recent Bowmore bottlings as many other fellows here point out.
The 17 is mild at best --some would call it weak.
The darkest I tought was a gimmick which did not outlast a positive shock value of sorts. Its just different, not inherently better; the sherry addition is thin at best and the islay flavour was thinner yet...
The Bowmore Cask strength really let me down: try tasting it side by side with the Laphroiag cask strength for example. I tried that, put them each in a blue cobalt tasting glass: and Bam! What a nose on the Laphroig, viscous vanilla, mixed with potent smokiness. This was truly outstanding moment. The Bowmore? It was insipid in comparaison. Hard to do with a cask strength bottling, but it was forgetable. I will use it for bananes flambees.
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Postby hpulley » Mon Jan 19, 2004 12:40 pm

Rib marinade, banana flambee, any more recipes for poor Bowmores? :D

That said, Had a 12yo Bowmore at the pub the other night and it was quite good. They have Darkest there too, will give it another try next time I'm there. Had Ardbeg TEN and Lagavulin16 next instead of more Bowmore.

Harry
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Postby Deactivated Member » Mon Jan 19, 2004 3:33 pm

Speaking about Bowmore, I like most of them. There are some editions I don't like very much, but he it's very personal for each one of us. I like the Bowmore 17Y old as a favorite from, however the 21Y old Bowmore is very very nice too. Apart from that if some one poored me a Bowmore "Legend" or a Bowmore "surf" no problem at all they are nice too.

Cheers,

Erik
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Postby shane » Tue Jan 20, 2004 11:32 am

As far as favourites go, mine would be the 15 yo mariner from about 6 years back in the screen printed bottle 43% 750ML. I purchased a bottle here in Australia in 1999 and the guy told me it was duty free stock which was surplus at the time. I tasted this whisky and was so impressed I went back the next day and purchased a dozen bottles. Also I havn't tried darkest recently, but when I had it back in 1999 at a New York bar it was a stunner. Praise the lord I stocked up with these older bowmores at the time as this whole perfume scenario is quite distressing with recent bottlings.
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Postby peatreek1 » Mon Feb 16, 2004 2:56 pm

I finished off my open bottle of darkest last night and my impression is that it is an outstanding whisky. Great balance of sherry and peat with a very long finish. I'm glad I still have an unopened bottle.

No suggestion of the dreaded excessivly perfume odor described by others, although there are fragrant notes of some burning peats.

The excessively perfurmey Bowmores are still a mystery to me as I have been fortunate in having never encountered a bottle.

Are the perfurmey bottles still being sold?
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Postby Sakkie » Sat Feb 28, 2004 5:47 pm

Bowmore has always been one of my favourite distilleries because of the outstanding quality throughout the different bottlings (from legend to black!).
My favourite has always been the 17 year old. The darkest has never done anything for me. The bottle I had several years ago tasted very superficial (caramel?) to me and had trouble opening up.
By the way, my thoughts are that the newer 17 yo contains less sherry matured whisky now because of the success of the darkest, so it has shifted towards say a less heavy and more flowery dram.
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Postby whiskyjack7 » Sat Feb 28, 2004 6:59 pm

THE Mariner 15 I have from .. the L.C.B.O. ,is 43% no paper label, print right on the bottle. tube contenter,stamped distiller of the year award 1995 on tube....international wine& spirit competion....
printed picture of small single sailing vessel one man also picture of the distillery and sea gulfs.
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Postby Lawrence » Sat Feb 28, 2004 7:58 pm

I had some of the Bowmore 25 last night, the one in the paper label bottle, not the one in the fancy ceramic bottle. I t was very nice, a wonderful nose with lots of flavour and that very well balanced mouthfeel you associate with well crafted older single malts.
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Postby Deactivated Member » Sun Feb 29, 2004 11:26 am

I agree with you Lawrence, the new 25Y old is a stunning dram, well matured and well balanced. The first time I tasted him was in Copenhagen last year, and it took me by surprise. Later that year I wasn't aware that I was going to taste this beauty again, during an event called: Spirit in Harmony. I tasted it a couple of times and I wanted to taste this gem again during the festival in The Hague last year, but it never came to that. So I might aswell buy my self this 25Y old one ( hopefuly the misses thinks the same way? ).

Cheers,

Erik
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Postby pibroch » Sat Mar 13, 2004 11:33 am

Also agree, the 25 yo is something special. A few years ago the distillery manager at the time, Isla Campbell, offered me various Bowmores to taste going from younger to older - he could see I wasn't impressed with any of the offerings but when he came back with 1/2 a tumbler ( ! ) of the 25 yo and saw my reaction he seemed satisfied. He had to go off to deal with a burst water main and left me in heaven sipping this golden nectar and taking in the beautiful view across a sunny Loch Indaal. The best Bowmore I've tasted was a 1967 50% from sherry casks for the Italian market tasted at the Lochside. Also a favourite: Bowmore Bicentenary standard bottling (imitation blown glass bottle) not forgetting the 1965 50% from sherry butts. In my view Bowmore has gone downhill big time - the taste is much lighter and far less interesting and yummy. Someone (not Isla) advised me that in the old days it was distilled much more slowly which, I suspect, explains a lot: malts are booming, and the accountants and marketing managers call the shots in the big concerns :cry:. On the plus side Springbank and other independent distilleries still exist or are being (re-)built to cater, hopefully, for the likes of us aficionados! :mrgreen:

Jamie
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Postby hpulley » Wed Sep 01, 2004 12:47 pm

Just thought I'd say I finally got up the nerve to try another bottle of Darkest, since a recent bottle of 12yo Bowmore was free of awful perfumey tastes and while the first dram is not quite as good as I remember it (not much smoke, no chocolate yet, still hoping it will open up some), it is not the horrible experience that was the last bottle I had. So this year I'm 2 for 2 on Bowmore so far (unless the airing out turns it sour somehow).

Might have to get Laga 16 and Ardbeg 17 for another HTH of these malts.

Harry
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Postby Admiral » Wed Sep 01, 2004 3:46 pm

Not unlike your proposal, I recently did a HTH of Bowmore 12, Laphroaig 15, and "The Smokey Peaty One" by Jon Mark & Robbo.

The Bowmore 12 was exceptionally balanced, but the sweetness & richness of the Laphroaig 15 did it for me.

I'm still wading through a bottle of Bowmore Darkest, which is seriously flawed. It tastes like a young Bowmore mixed in a blend of turpentine & cordial.

Cheers,
Admiral
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Postby Lawrence » Wed Sep 01, 2004 5:56 pm

I've not tasted a bottle of the Darkest in quite a while however I do remember it being a very nice dram. Like a lot of people I've noticed a change in the Bowmore's in the last few years, the change in the 12 from a smoky powerhouse to a perfumed.....words elude me. Thus I'm not surprised that other whiskies in the line up have also changed (and not for the better).

I checked MJ's rating in the 4th edition of the Companion and he rated it a massive 91 and of course we all know that most of the Bowmore ratings in the 5th edition we dropped "due to lack of space".

Lacking a MJ rating I turned to Jim Murray's 2004 Whisky Bible (as others on this thread have done) and keeping in mind that they use a different system to rate their whiskies I saw JM gave the Bowmore darkest a 69 with the following comment "Raw and slightly wild. I adore youth in a whisky but this is just not my scene at all".

Like the Macallan I think Bowmore has fallen prey to it's success and has tried to increase output at the expense of quality. I take this view since neither the Macallan 12 nor the Bowmore 12 are the malts they used to be, when a standard "flag bearer" malt of a distillery suffers a drop in quality you have to start asking questions about the whole line up.

One other possible explanation for the change in the malt is that the 12 year olds from both distilleries had a high percentage of older malts in them which "beefed" up the malt. Now that these older malts are not available in such quantities the 12 year olds (and the Darkest) are suffering.
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Postby bond » Sat Sep 04, 2004 11:06 am

Sampled the Bowmore 12 last night and I felt the finish was a lot more coastal now.

When pitted against some of the heavier Islays, salt certainly shows up more in the Bowmore.
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Postby Admiral » Tue Sep 07, 2004 4:17 am

I returned to my bottle of Darkest which I opened six months ago to see if a bit of oxidation had had any positive effects.

The harsh, spirity elements seem to have diminished, and the flavour profile did not seem as obviously out of balance compared to my initial reaction six months ago.

Still not the most sensational dram, but I guess I just view it now as an alternative expression of Bowmore. However, I still feel the flavours on the palate are not integral with the malt. Almost like they've been added afterwards, a bit like cordial.

Cheers,
Admiral
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