For my first review on this blog I thought I would go with something relatively pedestrian. The Legend is the entry-level, no age stated (NAS) malt from the venerable Islay distillery of Bowmore. It is cheap and ubiquitous. The following review is from a large pour from a bottle I purchased myself, sampled before the bottle reached the halfway mark.
Bowmore Legend (40%; from my own bottle)
Nose: Not much happening; faint, minerally peat, a little bit of Bowmore’s trademark floral notes, and some over-ripe melon. Gets salty with time, with a slight hint of iodine.
Palate: A little too thin. Faint hints of charcoal, with a touch of fruit. Pretty much as advertised by the nose.
Finish: Nothing worth talking about.
Comments: Not a whole lot of there there, but you can’t really complain at the price. 43% would probably improve this reasonably but as it is it’s a decent, if simultaneously not very representative introduction to Bowmore—it does not feature in any intense manner the qualities that cause many on the internet to malign this great distillery; but you get enough of a hint of them to get a sense of how different the official profile is from that of its fellow storied distilleries on Islay, particularly the Kildalton malts (Lagavulin, Laphroaig, Ardbeg). In fact, the only other Islay distillery whose whisky has even barely put me in mind of Bowmore is the new Kilchoman, whose young whisky too is (relatively) low on the punch of medicinal smoke, and has a floral quality on the nose and palate.
If you like this, you should move on to the Bowmore 12, which is a far more expansive whisky, and then on to the 15yo Darkest and the Tempest. (But if you don’t like this you shouldn’t conclude that Bowmore as a whole is not for you; try the 12yo first.) Independent bottlings of Bowmore of any decent quality are thin on the ground in the US, but AD Rattray have put out a couple that I really, really like: an 18yo single sherry cask from 1991, and a 20yo bourbon cask from 1990—more on these in future notes.
Rating: 78 points