Bowmore 15, “Golden & Elegant”

In the last year or so Bowmore have released a new series of whiskies for travel retail as part of a larger overhaul of their portfolio (the Small Batch has been discontinued). Somewhat unusually for releases for this market, the new Bowmores have age statements: there’s a 10 yo, a 15 yo and an 18 yo. Of course, since it’s for travel retail they also have silly names. The 10 yo is billed as “Dark & Intense” and the 18 yo as “Deep & Complex”. This 15 yo is “Golden & Elegant”. As you might expect from the name, this whisky comprises spirit matured in first-fill bourbon casks.; this is in contrast to the regular release Bowmore 15 “Darkest” (which I should really get around to reviewing sometime). Personally, I think teenaged bourbon cask Bowmore can be a very excellent and somewhat unique thing. Certainly the even younger Tempest (later sold as the Dorus Mor in the US) was very good. Let’s take a closer look at this one.

Bowmore 15, “Golden & Elegant” (43%; from a friend’s bottle)

Feel the glide.

Nose: Mild peat smoke borne aloft on a big briny, coastal breeze; below it is citronella, a hammy note and the trademark Bowmore florals and mildly custardy, faintly tropical fruit. With time there’s some white pepper and an increased ashiness. Water pushes the smoke and citrus back and brings out more sweetness and some vanilla.

Palate: Pretty much as promised by the nose with perfect balance between the smoke, the coastal notes and the fruit. Very nice texture at 43% with a nice acidic bite covering for the lower abv. No glycerine, I am happy to say. Smokier on the second sip; fruitier on the third. Not much change with time; let’s see what water does. Less smoky here too with water and the texture gets a bit too thin.

Finish: Medium. The smoke dies out and lets the fruit come up to the surface; ash again at the end. Water is best for the finish as the fruit gets more richer and more pronounced.

Comments: I really like this one and wish it were a regular release. I guess I’ll be looking for it on my next trip through an international airport—I believe it costs about $65 for a litre, which is a very good price. My friend Daniel, whose bottle was the source of this review, also purchased the 10 yo. Next month I may have a review of that. It’ll be interesting to see how it compares.

Rating: 86 points.

Thanks to Daniel for sharing his bottle!

2 thoughts on “Bowmore 15, “Golden & Elegant”

  1. This sounds promising. I never cared for the 15 y-o Darkest as it always seemed unbalanced and somehow not what I expect from a Bowmore. Like you, I also find older bourbon-cask expressions quite pleasing. Hopefully availability of this will spread beyond the travel retail market.


  2. I have owned two bottles of Darkest in the past. One I did not care for; the other, which stayed open much longer, I grew to like. I wouldn’t be averse to trying it again. By the way, in the overhaul of their lineup the Darkest is no longer called that, though apparently it is still made the same way (ex-bourbon + oloroso finish). I think there’s a lot of older stock in the US though.


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