Quick Review – Bowmore Legend

The other day, Little Bitty Bits and I were at our local upscale pizza joint (the kind that serves individual pizzas with fancy toppings).  The place has a little single malt selection that isn’t the worst ever – Glenlivet 12, Glenlivet 15, Glenmorangie Original, Macallan 12, Lagavulin 16 and the Bowmore Legend.  Now, by this visit, I had tried each of those whiskies aside from the the last two.  And from my reading up on whisky in the last few months, here is what I know about them: they are both Islays, the Lagavulin is beloved by many as a great peaty whisky, and the Legend is known for being one of the cheapest good whiskies around.

Faced with this decision, you have to understand two things about me.  First, I am a wimp.  The murderer’s row of Laphroig, Ardbeg, Caol Ila and the like scare me.  Well, they don’t scare me scare me.  I just have a difficult time seeing myself enjoying something that people describe as having the taste of campfire.  Second, I am cheap.  Most of the other pours at this place had run me $9 or $10, and I was hoping to maybe give the wallet a slight break (in the end, though, I think they still charge $8.50 for the Legend).

So as the post title shows, I went with the Legend.  Here are my notes.  They are short and sweet, because drinking this whisky is a pretty short and sweet experience.  On the nose, this reminds me a lot of Johnny Walker Black – a little hit of smoke and some citrus-y sweetness in back.  On the palate, it is very light bodied – almost watery.  Again, you get a little puff of smoke and then a light taste of honey.  Then the show’s over.

Reading back, it sounds like I might have been a little too harsh.  This is a pretty straightforward whisky, not a peat monster.  And it easily passes my “are you pouring it down the drain” test.  It is just … simple.  But for $26 a bottle, I wouldn’t fault anyone on a budget for using it as their go-to Tuesday night sipper.

Really, though, the whole reason for posting this review is so that I can show you this video that I recently stumbled across.  I was on Youtube, checking out some videos by the great Ralfy, and I somehow found an additional review of Bowmore Legend.  I just couldn’t have been more entertained.  Enjoy:

My favorite part of blogging is when some of my visitors talk whisky in the comments.  Almost to a person, they know more than me about the subject, so it is a great learning experience.  So I’ll open it up to you – what are your picks for great whisky values?

I’ll start with a few picks of my own.  Two bottles that I quite enjoy for under $35 locally are Glenmorangie Original and Old Pulteney 12 (WW reviews both upcoming ) (and actually, if I had to settle on just one value bottle, OP12 might be the one).  A couple of dollars higher, and I’m coming to realize that I am all about Highland Park 12 (at $41).

For another data point, we can look to Ryan’s Value Whiskey Reviews.  For his highest value rating, he also lists the Highland Park 12, and also highlights Talisker $10, at $48 per.  What say you, good readers?

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16 comments on “Quick Review – Bowmore Legend

  1. Ryan says:

    Hi Whiskeywriter, I have two comments:
    1) If you can happily sip Highland Park and Bowmore Legend, then I can say you probably need not be afraid of the bigger boys. I won’t guarantee that you’ll actually enjoy a full bottle of them, but I can say they’re worth tasting a dram of to see if you like it. I highly doubt you’ll actually be repulsed or anything. For me, medium-peat (e.g. Highland Park, Talisker) is the sweet spot. More is fine, but not better.

    2) Thanks for the mention of my now-retired blog!

  2. G-LO says:

    Gotta agree with Ryan. Highland Park 12 is an absolute bargain (especially in PA), and Talisker 10 is still one of my all time favorites. Keep in mind that I first had the Talisker about 15 years ago, and I still love it. If a whisky can be your friend, then this one is a #BFF!

    As far as fear of peat, it all comes down to personal preference. Find what you like and experiment when you can.

    So where is this fabulous pizza joint? Inside or outside of Philly?

    • Yeah, I am probably overstating it when talking about the Islays. I’m more than happy to try them, and expect to enjoy them to an extent. My taste for peat has changed significantly in just the last few months. I’m actually quite eager to try some of the big boys.

      Last time I was at the Cooperage in Philly, the bartender mentioned that the PA state stores recently had HP12 for somewhere in the mid-$30 price range, which is just fantastic. I think it is back around $42 now though.

      I’m sure you know the pizza spot, as I believe I’ve seen you tweet about the Pour House in Westmont (which is also a favorite spot of mine). It is Treno, just down the road a bit.

      • G-LO says:

        Ahh. Haven’t been to Treno yet. Actually headed to the Pourhouse in a few. Great place!

        Have you tried the Compass Box Peat Monster yet? Might be a good stepping stone to Islay and it’s reasonably priced.

      • You should hit up Treno. Wednesday is the day to go – two for one pizza specials. Everything there is pretty good.

        I haven’t tried the Peat Monster, but would definitely be willing to try that out. It’s going on the list. Thanks!

      • G-LO says:

        I’ll have to make that work over the summer when there are no pain in the ass kid things to deal with, i.e. homework etc.. Thanks for the tip!

  3. Florin says:

    WW, HP is indeed a great value. I second Ryan that you are ready to go to the dark peaty side! The notion of best value is tricky, since it depends on price, and local prices differ. I get many good deals on-line, but I am aware that this may not be an option in your state. Here are some repeat buys for me, which is one definition of best value. (You can google the best prices). I list them in increasing price, based on my own purchase: Very Old Barton 6, BiB, Jim Beam 8 Black, Bowmore Legend, Glenlivet 12, Glen Moray 12, Laphroaig 10, High West Double Rye, Willett Single Barrel Rye 4/5 yo, Old Pulteney 12, Glenfiddich 15, Wild Turkey Rare Breed, Pendleton 1910 Rye 12, Hyde Park 12, Dalwhinnie 15, Talisker 10, Aberlour A’bunadh, Caol Ila 12, Lagavulin 16. I’ve heard great things about the new Tomatin 15/18, but haven’t tried them yet. Well, this should get you started… 🙂

    • Interesting list. What is BiB?

      Also, where do you shop online?

      • Florin says:

        BiB = Bottled in bond, in bourbon heads shorthand (here it refers to the Very Old Barton). My go-to online stores: K&L Wines, Merwin Liquors, DrinkUpNY, The Party Source, The Whisky Exchange. The problem with buying on-line is that in order to compensate for shipping costs you start to rationalize buying more bottles — which is more, not less expensive than buying a single bottle at your favorite liquor store — so be forewarned! 🙂

  4. Florin says:

    …and the video was priceless!

  5. littletipple says:

    Video is pure genius – haven’t tried Legend – their 15 is superb though. My best value whisky? The Baillie Nicol Jarvie – £19.99 ($28?). It’s a blend, but what a blend!

    • I’ve heard about the BNJ before (perhaps from you?), but unfortunately don’t think they have it on my side of the pond. And I’ve got nothing against blends. I’m sure that in a blind taste test, I’d fail to differentiate between the blends and single malts.

  6. In terms of value, Highland Park 12 definitely wins if you can find it below $40. Prices are creeping up around here, but hopefully that won’t be a permanent change. Isle of Skye 8 Year is a fantastic blend of Talisker single malt, some sherried Highland single malt and a bit of grain whisky to smooth everything out. Has just enough peat to keep things interesting and enough fruity sweetness to balance those more bitter flavors. Can’t recommend it enough as a cheap whisky.

    Branching out further, there are tons of bourbons and ryes for under $30 that are solid drinkers – Rittenhouse BiB, Old Grand Dad Bib or 114, Ezra B Single Barrel – the list goes on and on. Even further afield, there are tons of great rums that are also just as cheap, good and complex.

    It’s a good time to be a lover of spirits, even if it does seem like all too often quality is down and prices are up.

    • Brian says:

      Russel Six Year Reserve is the finest rye whiskey I have ever had. In my opinion, it is grassy on the nose, tastes of rye bread and spicy grass, which transforms into a bright butterscotch finish. It’s a bargain at $35 per bottle. Enjoy!

  7. I love it Baby…. its 58 bucks in AUS

  8. J.D. Kimple says:

    I had read a bunch of reviews and was looking for an “everyday dram” instead of the Johnnie Walker Double Black. It’s still good, it’s just… anyway, you, ScotchNoob and Scothc Hobbyist had piqued my interest in Bowmore Legend as I already had the 12 and was leaning that way a bit already, but there was Black Bottle and Finlaggens’ to consider (I’m looking for more peat, more smoke). So I went in to my local State Liquor Store (yep, in Ohio you have to) and they had one bottle of Legend and no Black Bottle (Finlaggens seems to only be in Trader Joes on the West Coast in the U.S.). so, decision made…

    And I think it was a great choice. A bit sharper, not quite as round and smooth as the 12 but still, like you said, a real good weekday drink. Thank you for the recommendation.

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