The flavor profile of Bowmore whiskies is often described as “sweet and peat,” and that is very much in evidence here with the 15-year-old Darkest scotch. It has a lush aroma of sweet mesquite smoke, just like a good West Texas barbecue, that carries over to the palate.
Bowmore Darkest is aged for 12 years in ex-bourbon barrels and a final 3 years in Oloroso sherry casks. That gives the whisky a very enjoyable rich and sweet character without going too far on the wine notes.
There are flavors of chocolate, raisins, toffee, and a molasses taste like a good dark rum. There is also a little phenol giving it a nice tingle on the tongue. It is somewhat thin in the mouth, but has a long, satisfying finish — not too hot, despite the 86 proof (43% abv).
One of the things that impressed me the most about this spirit is how the fruit flavors from the sherry cask are so well balanced with the smoky peat. Milder than some of the other Islay whiskys, the Bowmore uses its smoke as a grace note, not a solo.
A wonderful whisky and a fine introduction to the Islay style.