Bowmore 12 year old
Beer never trickled down his chin; he sipped slowly like he was worried someone would see him. It rolled over his tongue, but this wasn’t a drink anyone savoured. ‘Do you know what American beer and sex in a canoe have in common,’ we asked him once. He shrugged and the group shuffled around to hear. ‘They are both fucking near water.’ Eric took another measured sip.
Sometimes we wake up in a cold sweat worried that those parties, where we shovelled puerile jokes like manure on a farm, were the best days of our lives. We were boisterous, daring ‘try anything once’ people at school. Eric wasn’t. A silent partner in crime, he was in the background like a Clapton or Bob Dylan song that you only heard in between jokes or before the parties started. That’s why we were surprised when Eric was the most successful of us all. He was the one with the job in Hawaii and the exotic girlfriend. Now, we listen to him talking about sailing from San Francisco to Mexico while we slowly sip our beers.
If you ask people to list all the Islay distilleries, a lot of them will forget Bowmore. But they underestimate it. Overshadowed by its bombastic Southern neighbours, Laphroaig, Lagavulin, and Ardbeg, Bowmore displays a sophisticated restraint. No one could smell Bowmore and doubt its provenance, but you don’t get sucked into the bog. It’s smoke, not earth, that entices you with lighter sugars over the vegetal and phenols we find in Caol Ila.
Its water courses through the limestone and sandstone hills on the east coast and trickles down the heather hills and peat bogs. It travels 19-kilometers before it reaches Bowmore, which stores the finished spirit in warehouses on the blustery shores of Loch Indaal, away from the Atlantic Ocean. It isn’t as aggressive as its neighbours and these factors create a well-balanced, not peat-dominated, flavour profile. Bowmore 12 year old is not to be overlooked.
Nose: Dusty like a suit that’s left in a closet with a boutineer left pinned to the lapel.
Mouth: The peat evolves around sugar and honey but, like the chin of an 18-year-old chap, isn’t abrasive or coarse.
Throat: A conversation with a lost school friend, it lasts along time and is tinged with dry ash.
Try it and you’ll be wanting bow(more)! Don’t underestimate or overlook this quieter Islay dram.
3/5 – Buy a measure of it. Everybody's got to believe in something. We believe we’ll have another of these.