May 142013

Bowmore Laimrig 15 y.o.015

54.4% abv

Score:  91.5/100


In late 2012, a few mates and I spent about a week or so on the Hebridean Isle of Islay, non-soberly carousing our way through the distilleries, whisky bars and restaurants.  And…uh…pretty much anywhere else we could drink (legally or otherwise).

Late one eve, just before last call in Bowmore’s legendary whisky bar, Duffies, the manager, David, bought me a dram of something special.  Very special.  So special, in fact, that it ended up being my favorite dram of the trip.  And trust me…there were a lot of good drams on that journey.

The malt David picked for me was a Bowmore Feis Ile 2011 limited release of the Laimrig 15 y.o.  Now…just to clarify…this was not the regular release of Laimrig, but one specific to the annual whisky and music festival on Islay, Feis Ile.  Sadly…for all my begging, pleading, cajoling and threatening (well…not really the latter), I was unable to procure a bottle of this.  It apparently sold out within hours of release, so my chances of scoring one weren’t good, but you can’t blame me for trying.  I’ll now shamelessly use this forum to ask again…if anyone has a bottle they’ll part with, please drop me a line.

The release we’re reviewing here is not that particular one, but is still a helluva dram.  Big and rich fruits meet machinery-esque flinty and industrial notes meet the smoke and brine we’d expect from Bowmore.  This is a return to old school Bowmore.  We’re veering away from the florals of recent years and moving back into the fruit-rich sherries that made for magical releases from this distillery through the 60s and 70s.  Yum.

There’s a lot going on with this whisky…and that’s a good thing.  I love it when I can sink into a dram for an hour or so and just…escape.  I think I could pick flavor threads out of this for hours.

Nose:  Chocolate covered cherries.  Nice jammy fruits.  Tobacco, leather and shoe polish.  Lightly smoked pork.  Flinty and oily.  Some coal and peat smoke.  Smells like evening walks on chilly nights on Islay…smoke lingering in the oceanic air.  Some rubber.  Raisin and eucalyptus.

Palate:  Plum and grape juice.  Again…rubber.  Smoke.  Slightly tarry.  Salty.  A little bit of pomegranate.  Cough drops/throat lozenges.  Slightly pithy.  Very, very drinkable.


– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Curt

 Posted by at 8:07 pm

  22 Responses to “Bowmore Laimrig 15 y.o. Review”

  1. Just bumped the score on this one. The longer I spend with this one, the more magic it becomes. Spectacular.

  2. Is this the same bottling that was being sold at KWM a few months ago? My brother in law picked up a bottle for me as they were pretty much sold out in Ontario (and pricier), and I’m looking forward to being united with it n December. If it’s the same it makes me all the more excited.

  3. i’ve never actually tasted a Bowmore, only read about them. I have a sample set of the 12, 15 and 18. Would a run of those be a good prep?

    • All very different beats to the Laimrig, even the 15 Darkest, which, to me anyway, would logically be just a neutered version of this Laimrig. Not the case. The fruits on this Laimrig hearken back to Bowmores of old. Nice to see this step up.

      But yes…I would absolutely run through those three first. Good to know what the core range offers, before letting this one blow you away.

  4. i’ve never actually tasted a Bowmore, only read about them. I have a sample set of the 12, 15 and 18. Would a run of those be a good prep?

    • Yes, but I’d give them plenty of room in the glass and lots of time to air out – those minis seem to be a little “spirity”.

      • That was a more productive comment than David’s. I will try that.

        • Although I think the 12 is kind of maligned by most, the 15 and 18 ARE very different and a big step up. While its glory days may be behind it (and I think it’s hard to name an established distillery where this is not the case), Bowmore is battling back from an underrated/underdog position.

          • I think that Bladnoch has a bright future ahead of it, and Aberlour is doing well.

            Skeptic, no offense was intended. I have the Three miniature set too. I’d be happy to do an e-tasting with you if you’d like.

          • Hm. To be honest, I think I prefer the 12 to the 15. A few of the top notes on the 15 don’t sit right with me. The 18 is one I have to give a little more attention to. WIll be grabbing a bottle soon.

  5. Skeptic, you’re typing double. Did you have all 3 miniatures at the same time?

  6. Reopened in 2000, Bladnoch has claim to a lot of previous history, but like any reboot/start-up, can’t really claim to be an established distillery in its current incarnation. Aberlour’s ‘A’bunadh remains a strong performer, but there have been significant stumbles with ‘Double Cask Matured’ expressions, the new 12 y.o. at 48%, and the 18 y.o..

    • Fair enough about the more standard Aberlours. But I would counter with Ralfy’s comment that he has never tasted a bad Aberlour expression.

      Wrt Bladnoch, the distillery has been releasing quality expressions of its own making for 3-4 years now. I see no reason to expect a decline in quality. If it’s not “established” now, it soon will be.

      Disclaimer, I am probably the largest owner of Bladnoch “stocks” in North America. However, most of those stocks are held by a friend in the US. He brings them to me painfully slowly, one bottle at a time.

      So I am indeed biased by having tasted and, thankfully, owning, some of their stocks. And to continue the stock market analogy, I am perfectly willing to “share”, because enjoyment by others will produce dividends of pleasure…

      • Frankly, and no shot against Bladnoch intended, I wouldn’t expect to see a decline in quality from many start-ups/reboots, if only because what most of these whiskies need are age, so time is literally on their side. Most distilleries that were around for, and survived, the “Whisky Loch”, however, have a “golden age” in their past which they probably won’t revive or equal, given the current emphasis on quick turn-over and youth.

  7. I had a bottle of Aberlour 12 last year at the same time I had a Glenfarclas 12. Tasted separately, I thought the Aberlour was better, but HTH I found the GF better. And the Gf 105 is much better. As to Bowmore, I didn’t really like the 15 Darkest, but found the 18 much better, although somewhat “funky”. As mentioned, both need air time.

  8. Tonight the Laimrig Anchored my club’s whisky tasting. It followed A’Bunadh 36, which followed Booker’s Bourbon and which followed Glenrothes 1998.

    The Laimrig was the star of the night. One participant poured herself 3 generous drams of it and we went through near half the bottle. Especially with time in the glass and 1-2 drops of H2O, it opened up quite nicely.

  9. Just picked up the 53.7% ABV batch (the one that came after this one, so I’ve been told) and it’s every bit as excellent as you say. I expect it to get better, too, as I’ve only just opened it. I can tell I’ll need to buy a second one (from our stocks here in Ontario) to store alongside my Tempest III from last year.

    This is one of those releases that’s good to buy in Ontario, for some reason. They haven’t changed the price since last year, so they Laimrig comes in at $98.95, which is a steal when compared to the 15 Darkest at $95.95.

    • Did you snag the 1 bottle listed at Bayview Village? Curses! That’s a good bottle (pricy though), and having just bought 10 bottles of Bladnoch, Booker’s and Ardbeg, I’d better leave well enough alone…

      • Nope! One of the ones at Summerhill. They now have 82 listed, and Bayview is back up at 7. There should be more coming to other stores soon. I heard @ that the LCBO was doing a full re-stock of the Laimrig.

        Hope this news doesn’t hurt your pocketbook too badly.

        • It probably will….It’s too good to pass up

        • Skeptic was right. I picked one up from Bayview Village today. I couldn’t find a batch number anywhere, though I admit being post call I may have overlooked it. Very limited edition. Only 18 000 bottles (last year’s saw 15 000. Amazing how they manage their casks so well that they get an EXACT round number of bottles like that…
          Will be a while before I get to it though. Still lots left in the old bottle.

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