Review #65: Bowmore 18

We’re always on the hunt for difficult-to-procure bottles, but the Bowmore 18 is broadly available, if a little expensive. But to christian a new office, we needed a bottle and it was hard to pass up an opportunity to get a sherried 18-year Islay at $120. The Bowmore 18 is one of its core expressions and was released in 2007 to replace the Bowmore 17, with a higher Oloroso Sherry cask-matured percentage in its blend.

Bowmore 18 is a great whiskey to convert folks who say that “they don’t like smoky whisky.” The age tempers down the peat – and the sherry adds fruity and sweet notes. I’ve converted the summer intern over to loving whisky after sharing some drams with him. The bottle (as of writing) is near its final days, so we went to the office this weekend to write this review out before the last few ounces disappear.

Bowmore 18 with the backdrop of a sun-soaked office

Bowmore 18 Review
  • Score - 8/10

Tasting Notes

Nose: Lemonade, mellow yellow candies, salt water, earthworms, bright red gala apples, Chinese glazed BBQ ribs, creme brûlée and tart black cherries.

Palate: Structured and smokey, salt water, raisins and some more salt. Big ripe fruits, strong vanilla smoke, figs, toffee and chocolate.

Finish: Lingering back palate of wet ash, lemon, tannin and leather straps.


Overall: 8/10. Excellent. Hard not to like. I only wish it were cask strength.

TLDR: Smoked Fruit Jerky

Bought for: $120 at K&L

Quick overview of our scoring system. Note a score of 8 is excellent, while a score of 5 is an average whisky. This is comparatively more stringent than standard whisky reviews (which average around 80).

Additional Information

  • ABV: 43%
  • Age: 18 years
  • Casks: Oloroso Sherry and ex-Bourbon, and married
  • Mashbill: 100% malted barley (a small proportion from the distillery itself)

About Bowmore

  • Founded in 1779, Bowmore is the oldest licensed Islay distillery and operates some of the oldest whisky maturation warehouses (its No. 1 vaults date back to the company’s inception!)
  • The “Black Bowmore” is its famously expensive 50-year-old expression and its “last cask” (5th and final) release retailed for $25,000 in 2017
  • Bowmore makes so much whisky that not all its whisky is aged on-site, which makes some of its expressions a bit less saline than other Islays
  • 18 year won double gold at the SF World Spirits 2018 and “best in show” at the 2007 competition

2 thoughts on “Review #65: Bowmore 18

  • 2021-02-11 at 4:58 pm

    Earthworms on the nose????? Yikes. I can’t say I have ever picked up an earthworm and smelled it.

    • 2021-02-13 at 7:52 pm

      Then you haven’t lived Greg!!!!! 🙂


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