By Richard Thomas
As aged whisky expressions go these days, Bowmore 18 Year Old is an exception to the rule, bucking the trends if you will. That is because it represents taking in a statement up, rather than down or eliminating it altogether. A decade ago, it was decided to replace Bowmore’s 17 Year Old with this slightly older 18 Year Old concoction.
Bowmore is often noted as one of the few distilleries that still malts its own barley. Like many Islay distilleries, much is made of its seaside warehouses have briny air interacts with the casks of whiskey stored within. However, Bowmore makes so much whisky nowadays that not all the barley used as malted on-site, nor all whiskey aged on-site. These are features that play into their flavor profile, which is not a saline as some others on the island.
This 18-year-old expression was drawn from ex-bourbon barrel and Sherry cask stock, and bottled at 43% ABV.
Color of Bowmore 18 doesn’t really tell us much, and serves as little more than eye candy, because coloring has been added. This is the case for a number of Bowmore expressions. That said, the appearance is eye-catching, a light and coppery amber. Swishing out of the glass drops some very thick legs.
The nose smacks of wet stuff. It’s smoky and peaty, but in the soft and damp kind of way. There are notes of wood spice as well, but these also come across is that. Current sweetness, reminiscent of stewed pears, joints with wet pipe tobacco note and rounds things out nicely. It’s a restrained scent, and one that invites repeated nosing.
The flavor delivers subtle, fruity sweetness and spice in the main, and far less smoke than was present on the nose. The taste of the whisky would be much simpler than its smell, were not for a note of iodine that makes a welcome appearance.
The finish follows from the iodine note, and then turns back on what tobacco for a long, lingering spell.
This single malt typically goes for about $100 or £70 in the UK. All things considered, at that price point I would rather have a 15-year-old, which delivers much more for the money.