One of the big names of Islay, Bowmore is a staple of bars around the world.
Bowmore’s 12 year old bottling is its youngest single malt with an age statement, and it’s a solid entry point to Bowmore’s typical structure. Moderately gold/amber in color, Bowmore 12 offers a mild nose with a somewhat hot character. The peaty smokiness doesn’t come into play until you take a sip, and then a lush smoke rolls over you, almost characteristic of a grass fire. There’s also honey and a little lemon in the body, both of which come into play after the smoke starts to fade.
The finish is short and mild, and a little watery, but warming. Altogether a solid whisky, though a bit on the simple side. 80 proof.
The only other Bowmore I have on hand for comparison is Bowmore 17 Year Old (B-), which is only sold at duty free (and similar) outlets. This 86-proof whisky is bolder and more aggressive, but it shares much of the 12’s DNA. The 17 has tougher smoke, which gives it a lightly harsh and bitter finish, but it is tempered by a good bit of water. I rather prefer the 12.
B / $40 / bowmore.co.uk