Bowmore Vault Edition Second Release Review

“Smoke on the Water”

Whisky Review # 883
Country: Scotland
Region: Islay
Brand: Bowmore Vault Edition Second Release "Peat Smoke"
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Age: NAS
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 50,1%
Maturation: Probably Ex-Bourbon Casks with a short Sherried Wood Finish
Chill Filtration: Information not available
Sample provided by Mauricio from Brazil. Many Thanks!
Price Range: US$ 80-90 (July 2020)
Price/Quality Ratio: 😐 Okay. Much better priced than the 1st Release.
Buying Advice: 😀It's different and worth a try. Under-matured though!

Colour: Golden with hints of Orange and Brown (Artificially Colored)


Well, Peat Smoke it is. Much more so than your average Bowmore Single Malt. The Nose has a very distinctive "Burnt" character. It's also rather Young, mostly Sweet and quite Herbal. Some Funky and Dusty notes complete the picture. It's not bad but rather straight-forward. The Sherry influence is limited.

Main Aromas:

Sweet Toasted Barley, lightly Burnt Buttered Toast, Toffee, Sweet Peat, Smoldering Driftwood, Ashes, Brine, Smoked Bacon, Dunnage Warehouse, Cherry-Flavoured Cough Syrup, Polished Leather Upholstery, Dried and almost Burnt Herbs, Mint, Wet Sand and Espresso.
Supportive Aroma Accents:

Heather-Honey, Salted Caramel, Dusty Track, Tar, Iodine, Fish and Shell Fish on the BBQ, Dried Fruit like Raisins, Sultanas and Figs, slightly Sour Berries, Mustard Seed and Pepper.


Again I have the feeling that this could have been a very good Single Malt if and when matured sufficiently. It shows glimpses of quality but its inherent Youth spoils a bit of the fun. The Palate is Bitter-Sweet and Medium-Dry with a few Sour and Dusty/Musty notes. Quite Peaty indeed for a Bowmore. I kinda like that. The Alcohol is noticeable. Only a mild Sherry influence.

Main Flavours:

Sweet Malted and Toasted Barley, Salted Caramel, Sweet Peat, Smoldering Wood, Tar, Ashes, Iodine, Band-Aid, Cherry-Flavored Cough Syrup, Bacon, Fish and Shell Fish on the BBQ, Dried Fruit like Raisins, Sultanas and Figs, Polished Leather, Mint and Pepper.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Heather-Honey, Toffee, Vanilla, Cranberries, Grapefruit, Lemon, Nutella, Cocoa Powder, Aniseed, Ginger and Freshly Roasted Coffee.


Middle-Long and mainly Sweet with a few Bitter, Sour and Salty notes. Again, quite Peaty and Herbal. The Alcohol is noticeable at this point. I find Sweet Toasted Malt, Salted Caramel, Toffee, Dried Fruit like Raisins, Sultanas and Figs, Nutella, Sweet Peat, Cold Smoke, Iodine, Soot, Tar, Ashes, Cherry-Flavoured Cough Syrup, Lime, Polished Leather Upholstery, Fish, Bacon and Shell Fish on the BBQ, Charred Oak, Cocoa Powder, Strong Espresso, Wet Rocks and Sand, Pepper, Ginger, Cardamom, Mint, Grapefruit, Cranberries and Herbal Tea. Medium Dry towards the end.

Drinking Advice:

I added a bit of Water and the Nose becomes more Malty and Coastal. Palate and Finish move to the more regular Bowmore profile of Sugary-Sweet Herbal Tea. I clearly prefer it Neat but you can carefully add a few drops if you like.

Rating: 85.5

Nose: 21.5 - Taste: 21.5 - Finish: 21 - Overall: 21.5

Drinking Experience Neat: Good


Bowmore is the oldest Islay Distillery and was founded in 1779 by David Simpson. It changed hands a couple of times along the years but since 1994 the Japanese Suntory group controls Bowmore. Bowmore still malts around 30% of the Barley on their premises. They currently produce around 1,8 million liters of Alcohol. The core range includes the NAS # 1, the 12, the 15 Darkest, the 18 and 25 Years. Some of the Bowmore Spirit is used in Blends like Rob Roy and Black Bottle. We visited the distillery in 2014 & 2017. I absolutely love the Malting Floor. Nice Shop and Visitor-Centre. Certainly well-worth the visit.

The Vault Series started a couple of years ago with the Atlantic Sea Salt. The series will consist of four Single Malts that will each present one of the four main Flavour profiles of the Bowmore Malts. Atlantic Sea Salt of course represented Salty and the Peat Smoke I'm reviewing today will naturally address Peat Smoke. # 3 and # 4 will respectively show the Fruity and Sweet side of Bowmore. The one thing they have in common is that all 4 will mature in Bowmore's No. 1 Vaults warehouse that was constructed in 1779 below sea-level.

I was surprised by this Bowmore. It's indeed more Peaty and Smoky than most of the regular Bowmore Malts and that's not a bad thing. I kinda liked that. It only does not score higher because of its inherent Youth. It sort of makes a half-finished impression and that's a pity. I really would like to see Bowmore venture a bit more into this direction and come up with a fully matured Smoky expression. I think that would be a stunner!  


Jan van den Ende                                                                           July 13, 2020

All pictures were taken during our visit in May 2014


Unknown said...

Nothing but kudos for this stunning islay. Didnt ever expect this much southern influence in a bowmore.

Jan van den Ende said...

Hi there, thanks for your comment. Please leave your name next time around. Glad you liked this Bowmore. I did too despite its obvious youth. Cheers, Jan.