Drink Review: Bowmore 15 Year Old

September 12, 2020
3 mins read

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A whisky coming into its prime. This 15-year-old single malt, which spends its final three years in oloroso sherry casks, is elegantly balanced between this sherry influence and the distillery’s fruit and peat characteristics – including a siren-like whisper of tropical fruit that will delight fans of older-style Bowmore. Now is the time to try Bowmore 15 Year Old, which reflects the best of the distillery’s output from around the new millennium.

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Bowmore Darkest Review

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Bowmore 15 year old is one of 9 single malt whiskies in Bowmore’s core range (the others being Darkest and 18 year old , Isle of Islay, 12 year old, 12 year old, Gold , 12 Year Old, Easy , and Shore , which is a non-age stated whisky). The Bowmore Distillery was founded in 1779 in the village of Bowmore on the Isle of Islay, and the whisky produced there is often considered a standard bearer for the distillery style. Bowmore 12 year old, 14 year old and 18 year old are the best known of the distillery’s whiskies, and each of these have won international awards. The Bowmore Distillery presently produces around 35 barrels of spirit per day. It is owned by Morrison Bowmore Distillers Ltd.

Bowmore 15 year old is matured in a combination of traditional oak casks with European oak sherry casks and has a minimum of 15 years in ‘reserve’ (unlike the Bowmore 15 Year Old Darkest which is matured for 12 years). The distillation process is also traditional with the original water source being the Tarlogie Springs.


Dark gold


Welcome Molasses and Sweetness Aromatic Ginger Newly mown Hay Peas Fried Banana


After a sweet initial taste hit of black cherries, a very present peat layer kicks in featuring roasted coffee, seaweed and a warm bath of salty ocean water. Peppermint oil and a touch of dark chocolate appear closer to the end of the finish.


Peaty and fruity. Dark chocolate with plums and sultanas.


This 15 year old expression is not the most complex dram with at least two layers being the most you will get. But balance is key and for me that is the magic of this particular Bowmore 15 year old. This is a deliciously gorgeous dram with a lovely lingering nostalgia as what more can you want from a whisky?

Bowmore 15 Year Old is blended with a higher proportion of European oak to allow its fruiter, fruitier and creamy flavours to come through. These flavours are more forward than in the Bowmore 15 Year Old Darkest, which receives at least a portion of its flavour from the higher proportion of ex-Bourbon oak casks used in the mix. The Bowmore 15 Year Old is a complex, seductive and seemingly rounded Bowmore whisky that doesn’t give up its secrets all at once. I would love to taste them side-by-side to really see how they are different.

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A geyser of Bowmore 15 year old ejects from the cask at the Bowmore distillery.

When I was offered the chance to set out on a journey to the Bowmore distillery on the Isle of Islay, I jumped at the chance. The distillery that was built in 1779 and has produced sense for over two and a half centuries. I envy the people who were born in the 1800’s, oh how great they must have thought they lived. I wonder what they would think of today’s society. Probably something along the lines of “how did we ever survive without smart phones and televisions?”. Time was very different in the 1800’s so I consider myself very lucky to have experienced the way of life and also the moonshine ways of the Scots and Irish. I think back to the days of traveling by horse or horse carriage to get across the country. I picture myself sitting on top of a horse with a saddle bag filled with my belongings next to the driver as my parents and the rest of the family have a seat inside. The driver would be cursing the rain for trying to soak him alive, mud would be everywhere on the poor horse. The smell of the horse would be unbearable to me even though I’ve grown up around them. The air fresh as it pours through the window as it does today. As we journey on the rain begins to pick up, the driver’s mood turns foul as the skies open up water is pouring down all around. I sit in silence and the smell of the horse becomes too much for me so I close the window. I wish for the day when motor vehicles will replace horse drawn carriages.

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