Drink Review: Bowmore 15 Year Old Darkest

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The Bowmore Darkest has flourished since it gained a 15 year-old age statement. The sweet sherry notes take precedence over the peat here.

Bowmore 15 Darkest Old Darkest Review:


The Darkest is the most popular and it represents a well rounded Bowmore. The Darkest has now become a specific age statement. The Darkest was once a vatting of four Distillers Edition from 1991-2003 and was one of the few releases to have previously been graduated. The new “darkest” is said by many to be a lot more expressive than previous incarnations:

Bowmore Darkest is still seemingly a still whisky without a lot of different cask types. It is said that a “small portion” of cask strength Darkest from 2006 was used here.

There are some definite sherried notes here but the compound is dominated by the peat smoke in a lightly briny way. It is what I would characterize as a Breton tea rather than a heavily smoked blue cheese. There are lots of dark fruits and a subtle nuttiness. The finish has dried fruit and hazelnuts, ending with a fudge-like quality.

This version of the Bowmore Darkest is fascinating because it is so different from the previous Finealta and Cask Strength versions. It is still great to see the distillery improve as the times go on and I am glad to see the Darkest receive this sort of attention.

Bowmore is very concerned with the color of its whisky and it is said to be in its “Perfect Natural color”. It still comes out too dark for my liking but it probably makes a lot of sense for a heavily sherried whisky to be dark. Personally, I think it is more important for blended whisky to be pale.

There is a lot to set this whisky apart from other sherry bombs. It has a nice subtle briny air to it as well as a little bit of an herbal note to the peat smoke. There is a great deal of dried fruit and an ever-so-slight hint of cinnamon to the finish. It’s a very refined combination of fruitiness and smoke.

I’m a big fan of the new Darkest. This is a finely balanced peated sherry whisky that manages to avoid being overly complex or heavy handed.

Bowmore 15 Darkest Old Darkest Review:

The new Bowmore Darkest does a great job showcasing Bowmore’s beloved sherry character. It is a peaty sherry bomb with sweet fruity notes but it is done in a very pleasant way. This has a lot livelier whisky for what I have come to expect from a Bowmore. I think Bowmore has really stepped it up in terms of quality and this is the best I have tasted of them since the late 1980’s. If you want a sweet, but not overly sweet, sherry whisky, I would recommend the Darkest.

This new version of the Darkest does a better job showcasing Bowmore’s sherry notes. There is a lot to like about it. I would still recommend the Cask Strength version over this because I think it has more depth but the Darkest is very good. This is a good, well-rounded Scotch that is definitely worth your time.

Bowmore 15 Year Old Darkest is a very good dram. I find it great for special occasions like the holidays. The price point is not my favorite but if there is enough in the bottle to share it won’t break the bank. It might be a little too briny for some, but I like the sweet-salty balance. The coloring is a bright amber color unlike anything else on the shelves.

I have tried all of the versions of the Darkest and found this one to be more subtle than the previous.

What I liked:

This is my favorite version of the Darkest. It’s big on sherry sweetness and has an interesting quality to the smoke.

What I didn’t like:

Since this is a higher proof I find it a bit hot and can use some water.

If you want a very good, but heavily sherried whisky, the new Darkest is a great choice.

Learn even more about Bowmore on my dedicated Bowmore Category.

This new Cask Strength update was a good move for Bowmore and I hope it sends a message to the market that Bowmore is back on the rise again. I would still recommend the Cask Strength version over this but this is a very good effort.

I was able to score some of the new Bowmore Darkest at a bottle share. I scored a bottle as well but it is already half gone. I am definitely a fan of this whisky and it’s still good enough to drink with something spicy like Jerk Chicken after a long day.

Written by Mark Adams

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