Bowmore 12 vs 15

A Battle of the Bowmores: Bowmore 12 vs 15

When it comes to Bowmore whiskies, there are several core expressions to choose from. You can go for the Bowmore 12 Year Old, or you can step it up a notch with the Bowmore 15 Year Old.

Both of these whiskies have their unique flavour profile that sets them apart from the rest. So, which one should you choose? In this blog post, we will compare the Bowmore 12 vs 15 whiskies and help you decide which one is right for you.

Bowmore 12 vs 15

The Bowmore 12 and the Bowmore 15 are both fine whiskies, each offering unique experiences through taste, colour and smell.

While there are many differences, the major is in the age, with the 12 years intended for younger palates because of its relative lightness compared to the earthier 15 years with more complexity.

Bowmore 12 and Bowmore 15 are distinctly different whiskies that offer a range of flavours, ranging from smoky to fresh fruit notes on the Bowmore 12 to deeper, earthy tones on Bowmore 15.

Bowmore 12 offers a light and fruity flavour profile thanks to its twelve-year aging process in American oak barrels. On the nose, Bowmore 12 has a subtle smokiness with light citrus and sweet stone fruits like peach and apricot. The taste of Bowmore 12 is light and smooth with gentle peat smoke mingling with biscuit malts and a hint of pepper. The finish is sweet with a lingering smokiness that lingers long after each sip.

Bowmore 15 has a darker colour due to being aged fifteen years in both Spanish Oloroso Sherry casks and American Oak casks. On the nose, Bowmore 15 has an intense smoky aroma with hints of dark malt and dried fruits such as raisins or figs. The taste of Bowmore 15 is smooth yet complex owing to its increased ageing time, offering strong peat smoke mixed with an array of spices such as black pepper or nutmeg. The finish is smooth yet lengthy with an intense flavour that will linger on your palate for a while afterwards.

Both whiskies are excellent examples of Islay’s finest traditions when it comes to scotch whiskey production as they stay true to their unique character within the distillery’s traditional distilling process and careful selection of cask types used for ageing the whiskey before bottling.

Here’s an overview of each bottle’s flavour profiles.

Bowmore 12 bottle of whisky

Bowmore 12 Flavour Profile

Nose: Coastal smoke and ash soon make way for bergamot, orange zest, lemon slices and some hay before becoming rather floral, heather smoke now competing with the ash.

Palate: Lovely and rounded, honeyed even, initially. Vanilla, perfumed smoke and coastal elements develop. Dark Peat. Blossom, oily sweetness.

Finish: Smoky and long. Sea spray, dry grass, a touch of ash and citrus.

Price: £35 / $42

Bowmore 12 Review

The Bowmore 12 is a flagship 12-year-old single malt with a baseline of 40% ABV (80 proof) and distilled at a temperature below 60 degrees Celsius. Sold as a medium-peated malt it was released as a replacement for the then-discontinued 10-year-old.

Representing a blend of single malt whiskies from different distilleries, and matured for 12 years in American oak barrels. you’ll notice the warm amber complexion right away which is soothing to the eyes and infused with subtle honey, the whiskey gives out a combination of peat smoke, sweet oak and a lemony aroma.

Although not too strong, the Bowmore 12 tastes magnificent, leaving you desiring more.

On the nose, the Whiskey sways a rich BBQ smokiness which reminds you of almond butter and sea-air minerals. You can also smell bergamot, orange zest, and lemon slices as you explore it.

On the palate, the Bowmore 12 takes you on a journey of tropical fruit, peat, and smoke. A warm, delicious taste paired with a mellow finish and hint of vanilla helps savour a pleasantly malty sweetness along the edges of its flavour profile. The taste is rich with honey and peaty notes, which are balanced by dry fruitiness from the sherry casks it is matured in.

This single malt scotch whisky has won many awards such as the Gold Medal at both the ISC and IWSC in 2009, the Gold award at the International Spirit Challenge in 2017, and another Gold medal at the 2018 San Francisco World Spirits Competition.

Bowmore 15 Flavour Profile

Nose: Dark and punchy. Sherry notes, juicy Corinth raisins. Spices. Creamy, mochaccino, sweet dates.

Palate: Rich, woody, pine oil. Syrupy. Lovely, creamy toffee and malt. Smoky.

Finish: Spicy, toffee, sherry, barley.

Price: £57 / $70

Bowmore 15 review

The Bowmore 15 is a fine whiskey with a strength of 43% ABV (86 proof). You’ll notice a plethora of differences compared to the Bowmore 12 in appearance, taste, and smell.

Boasting a darker complexion resulting from a secondary maturation period, the whisky showcases a dessert-like resemblance of burnt Sienna; an earth pigment yellowish brown colour.

How peaty is Bowmore 15?

It’s not only more smoky off the top but also somewhat chocolaty, murky and sulphuric.

The Bowmore 15 was released in January of 2007 as an extension to the 10-year-old range and aged for at least 15 years in American bourbon barrels, some of which also age in oloroso sherry casks giving it a rich texture and flavourful finish.

On the nose, the Bowmore 15 has an aroma of honey, vanilla, and spice. Although initially, there’s a milder smell owing to the peat, subtle notes start emerging eventually. You will notice maple syrup and a powerful wooded scent with a hint of apple and cinnamon.

On the palate, this whisky gives you a rich experience of dark fruit syrup and dried fruits. A brief taste-savouring attempt will reveal exciting treacle toffee flavours and give off powerful hints of cedar wood. While, as you enjoy the drink, you’ll find notes of oranges, apricots, and peaches. The finish is long, smooth, and mellow with an elegant smoke.

This whisky won a gold award at the International Wine and Spirit Competition in 2018, a gold award at the International Spirits Challenge in 2017 and a double gold award at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition in 2018.

Bowmore 12 vs 15: Which one should you choose?

Both whiskies offer unique experiences. There’s a lot to admire, appreciate and love about the distillation process, ageing and the flavours of the Bowmore’s finest. Hence, it becomes a tough decision to pick one. 

Well, the Bowmore 12 soothes young palates because of its well-balanced flavours, still infused with the rich Islay smoke. You’ll experience hints of chocolate paired with a combination of tropical fruits. It’s a lighter whisky which works best if you are on a budget. The Bowmore 12 costs £35 / $42 for a 70cl bottle with 40% ABV.

But if you seek a richer experience, the Bowmore 15 is the one for you. With a better and fuller finish and darker complexion, this whisky unfurls the flavours of sour cherries, Sherry, toffee and earthy peat. It’s more smoky with hints of oak. If you have the budget, this is the best whisky you can get. The Bowmore 15 costs £57 / $70 for a 70cl bottle with 43% ABV.


In the battle of the Bowmore 12 vs 15, Bowmore 12 provides an easy-drinking whisky perfect for those just getting into scotch whisky while Bowmore 15 is best suited for those who want something more complex and intense in their whisky-tasting experience.

The Bowmore 12 and Bowmore 15 are two delicious whisky options that offer different drinking experiences. The Bowmore 12 is a light, easy-drinking whisky. The Bowmore 15 is a more robust whisky.

When it comes to deciding which whisky is better between the Bowmore 12 vs 15, it really depends on what kind of experience you are looking for from your whisky-tasting journey.

The Bowmore 12 is an excellent choice if you’re just getting into scotch whisky; its lightness makes it easy to sip on its own or add to cocktails for a subtle smokiness without overwhelming the other ingredients in the drink.

Meanwhile, if you want something more complex with intense flavours from aged sherry casks then the Bowmore 15 is worth considering – its awards speak for themselves.

Whichever bottle you choose, you can rest assured that you will be getting a high-quality whisky crafted from centuries-old traditions which have been passed down from generation to generation over time on Islay island off Scotland’s west coast.

Down the Rabbit hole?

Check out Bowmore 15 vs 18

Coastal view of the Isle of Islay in Scotland

Home of the peat monsters

The Scottish island of Islay has evolved through centuries to become one of the prime locations of Whisky distilleries on the planet.

Acres of land beautifully laid from coast-to-coast witness the nurture of the extravagant peat grounds sprinkled with salt water when the dancing winds splash the seawater against shelters of uneven rocks.

Known for their smoky taste, the Islay Whiskies owe their elegance to complex combinations of fruits, cedar wood, many spices, and the rich peat.

The island shelters an abundance of unique flora, contributing an environment for the growth of peat that makes the whiskies truly magnificent.

Bowmore is one of the oldest distilleries on the grounds, producing delicious single malt scotch whiskies since 1779.

A popular choice for whisky drinkers around the world, the Bowmore Distillers Company produces single malts with a well-balanced mix of flavours. Initially established as a farming distillery, the company uses over half of the peat reserves compared to other distilleries on the Island. It has a complicated history and is known for its smoky taste.

Thanks to its unique process of leveraging natural sources for ingredients, Bowmore successfully handicrafts some of the finest scotch whiskies.

The distillery’s water source is the Laggan River, rising in the ancient pre-Cambrian rock that washes over the peat grounds to pick a brown pigment and about two-ppm phenol which manoeuvres the Whiskey’s taste.

Islay’s ambience flourishes every drop of the whisky’s complex balance of smokiness, maritime minerals and fresh fruit notes.

A plethora of hours go into the distillation process, where the whiskies are distilled twice before entering the underground storage units to age.

While Bowmore is renowned to produce strong single malt scotch whiskies that stay true to their complexion and taste, there are two variants that allow beginners to unravel the magical taste of Islay’s finest.

Bowmore Distilling Process

Bowmore is renowned for its traditional and complex distilling process, which starts with sourcing the best quality ingredients from around Islay. The water used in their whisky production is sourced from the Laggan River, which runs through pre-Cambrian rock and over peat grounds, resulting in a brown pigment and two parts per million of phenol. This gives Bowmore Whisky its unique flavour profile.

The whisky is then distilled twice using Bowmore’s copper stills, which are heated using a direct firing system. This method produces an intense character that Bowmore whiskies are known for. After distillation, Bowmore stores their whiskies in underground storage units to age and mature. Bowmore ages each bottle according to their own specifications; while the Bowmore 12 Year Old is aged in American oak casks for twelve years, the Bowmore 15 Year Old is aged in both Spanish Oloroso Sherry casks and American Oak casks for fifteen years until it reaches maturity.

During the ageing process, Bowmore whisky absorbs its characteristic smoky flavours from the peat smoke that fills Bowmore Distillery’s cellars every day. As well as this, Bowmore adds another layer of depth to their whiskey by marrying different batches together before bottling them. This marrying process ensures that each bottle of Bowmore has a consistent taste profile across all batches.

Bowmore also takes great care when selecting casks for ageing their whisky; only first-fill barrels from specific cask types are used to ensure a high quality product for consumption every time. Once Bowmore bottles its whisky, it can be enjoyed straight away or stored for later consumption as it does not require any additional ageing or maturation after bottling – but rest assured, you will get a smooth glass of perfectly matured whisky whenever you choose to uncork your bottle.

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