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Islay single malts are an acquired taste for many whisky lovers and the challenge facing the islands distilleries is creating a whisky that appeals to the masses as well as the dedicated fans.
The Bowmore distillery’s 18-year old expression is probably their most accessible dram. It is a limited range which features all the classic Bowmore hallmarks including that distinctive peat-smoke.
But this one has been left to mature in hand-selected oak casks next to the sea for the best part of two decades which has given it time enough to remove those rough edges and evolve into something truly special.
The Bowmore 18 year old is complex yet astonishingly well balanced. It will put you in mind of curling up by a roaring log fire after a day on a fishing trawler in a Scottish squall.
The nose warns of a smoky blast but when it comes it is smooth, gentle, and more than matched by a rich sweetness and hints of that peat-bog floral essence which has become a Bowmore trademark.
If you are one of the many who are wary of Islay malts, this could just be the one to win you over. If you are already a fan, it will become an instant favorite.
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Classic Bowmore smokiness, perfectly tempered with creamy caramel, chocolate and roasted spices. With zesty citrus peels drenched in Sherry, and a good pinch of sea salt.
Desert inspired, with a lot of dark fruits, especially figs, plums and ripe cherries, all covered by the smoked chocolate. Less smoke than the smell suggests, with a strong PX cask influence.
Some coffee on the finish, keeps you coming back for another taste.