Bowmore Islay Scotch 17yr 750mL

Most recently we celebrated in the combined birthday of both a Buffalo, and a Bear. To mark the festivities we decided to enjoy the wonders of a British style pub known as the British Beer Company (BBC) – which first off is a chain bar in American meaning the purpose of being a true British Pub is essentially out the window. BUT bring on the goofy racism.


Now while we wondered why there was so many British Standards over the place – and how exactly music from RockBand and cockrock were supposed to ‘fit’ we decided to enjoy some wonderful beers – which we did not review because we were busy. Drinking beers. Now while the rest of place got most everything else wrong in terms of authenticity at least they had one of the better beer selections we’ve seen. Although we have no formal review I would highly recommend Rogue Dead Guy Ale, and Innis and Gunn.

As me and William sat down though – dismayed that the fish and chips would be American sub-par instead of British sub-par (seriously Britain your food sucks but I want the cocaine you put in fish and chips) we decided it was time for scotch. And so in an American bar stylized like a British pub we ordered a Scottish drink.

Now Bowmore is nearly synonymous with Islay scotches – A fan of Highlands myself I find it hard to name more than a handful of Islay’s and Bowmore is certainly the first. Now while we’ve sampled but not reviewed their 12 year I can assure you that it certainly has some power to it. But we we’re out – it was my birthday so we thought – go with the 17 year.

Sadly for Bowmore it was a choice we slightly regretted. While the younger version isn’t as smooth at least it made up for it in taste and power. I mean make no mistake this is a little above other single malt scotches overall – but when we ordered a 17 year old scotch we expected more than this.

What they say: “Established in 1779, Bowmore Distillery is one of the oldest distilleries in Scotland and nestles on the shores of Loch Indaal on the Inner Hebridean Isle of Islay. Bowmore is universally regarded as the best balanced of all the Islay malts, as characterised by its wonderfully rich and complex flavours.”


Taste: 5.0 – Like I just got lost and ate a tree in Scotland. It’s very heavy on the peat and wood, but not much else. Really not much complexity beyond those 2.

Aftertaste: 6.0 – Nice bit of smokiness, not the best. It’s good though and best of all it stays with you for a while.

Burn/Smooth: 6.5 – Very smooth and it has a little bit of the warmness we really want from scotches.

Aroma: 4.25 – This has no complexity or power – it’s just subpar. When you order an Islay you want that intense woody and peaty smell, but this is muted and weak.

Honesty: 6.0 – Now here’s the issue – while this is a scotch, and it’s very much just peat and wood one would think it gets a fairly good score. On the back of the bottle though they do the worst possible thing, and they lie to us.

Mixability: 7.5

w/ Rocks: 7.5 – Again as proven with most single malts – the addition of a bit of water or an icecube serve only to open your scotch up and allows you to enjoy the delicious presents it was hiding. This makes the scotch smokier, more complex and flavorful and overall much better.

Value: 5.25 – At $65 to be honest you’re not buying this scotch because you wish to enjoy those 65 dollars of scotch, you do it so you can look important by having a 17 yr scotch in your bar – why you would do that and not go for Chivas Regal 18yr I’ll never know.

Google Shop Average: $65 (Note this is from various sites as since this ran for only about ~500 bottles prices seem to vary highly.)



Reviewer Scores:

William Henri Neve the IV: 5.0

BuffaloJern: 5.5

Want to compare this spirit against our archives? Visit our statistics page.

Metric Score: 40.50/70 |+| Metric Average: 5.79 |+| Reviewer Average: 5.25

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Final Thoughts:

Now from the metrics it would seem this is solidly above average – but we disagree. The only reason my score wasn’t a 4 was of how nice it was on ice. You see this isn’t a bad scotch, but in a way we wanted so much more and it let us down. It let us down like a British style pub that had Nickleback playing in the background.

Cheers mates.



I am the Buffalo editor and curator of Honest Booze Reviews

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