Probably the whisky I’ve bought the most in my life, because it’s a relatively inexpensive all-rounder. It’s got a bit of smoke, a hint of peat and sherry, with a smooth, honeyed finish. It’s not too powerful, it’s not too soft. In truth, it might be a bit boring, but it’s good and it’s relatively inexpensive at the provincial liquor store. Any cheaper and your into the blends and the lesser Glens and Irish whiskies. But if we’re talking Islays and the like – that certain “level up” – then this and the Waves are your best bets.

Famed whisky expert Michael Jackson (no, not that one) called the Highland Park 12 the world’s best all-rounder, and he had a point: The Highland Park 12 is even more well balanced between a larger scope of flavours, all of them subtle but coalescing into a smooth single malt. But for my tastes, what I like, this is my pick for the title, if only because I like a little more flair to my whiskies – I prefer it when a whisky has at least one or two characteristics that stand out. And the Bowmore 12 has that, which is rare for its price and popularity.

Despite my praise, it’s lack of a truly distinct character makes it somewhat forgettable. When I’m drinking it, I drink it. I don’t savour it like I do many other drams. I almost forget it’s there, that it’s a whisky – much less an Islay – which I’m drinking. I’ve had the Darkest and Dusk, the 18 and the 21 and there’s much more to discover with Bowmore, you can certainly do worse but easily better as well.

And because I keep changing my mind (if I buy and drink it so much, it can’t just be because it’s affordable, after all), this rates right between a Meh and a That’s a tasty beverage!


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