Bowmore: 18 Year (Scottish Islay Single Malt Whisky: 18 Years: 43% ABV)

Visual: A quite reddened copper.

Viscosity: Quite fast thick streaks.

Nose: Smoke, just slightly oily. Meats and kippers. Light charring. Honeycomb. Smoother and with custard elements when you add water.

Body: Smooth and peaty. Marmalade. Milk chocolate. Meaty. Water smoothes adding honey. Still quite meaty with water. Red fruit and grape jam mix together. Doughnuts.

Finish: Fish oil. Chocolate and vanilla. Water adds caramel on digestive biscuits, Strawberry jam.

Conclusion: I know it has been said that there is a Bowmore for all whisky fans, but I didn’t expect them all to be combined in one glass.

This a very smooth whisky, and one that initially matches my memories of first trying it.  What was most distinctive from my memories was a light fish element, oils and kippers. Here it is present but nowhere near the level my memories suggested. Water lightens it from those notes bringing out sweet flavours and reinforces that meaty and peaty Islay way of doing things. Either way that light fish oil and kippers is a minor interesting note at the back of a very clever whisky.

What makes it stand out is that dry chocolate flavour, similar to the 15 year old, but here you get a fruity jammyness that peaks out around the edges. It’s a careful set of lighter notes that floats around the weightier main body.

It really is a careful mix of graceful sweetness and heavy flavour without ever bending to that booming medicinal nature that oft comes with the heavier Islays. It is very easy to examine and find new layers, but never feels too smooth and light. The sweetness and peat balance very well, better than you would expect for such a combination.

This is well worth sampling, distinguished without losing what you enjoy about the younger Bowmores,  A whisky that will trade you a few drops of water for a massive range of flavour. Very impressive

Background: I’m a big fan of Islay whiskies, and Bowmore is one of the smoother spirits the place turns out.  I’d tried this 18 year old whisky a few years ago at a whisky show but was a touch past my best by that point so did not review it.  I found this at the tasting rooms so decided to return to the old friend.