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Bowmore 12 vs Lagavulin 16: Head to Head!

Discover the differences between Bowmore 12 vs Lagavulin 16 in this in-depth comparison and decide which Single Malt is better for You!

Bowmore 12

NoseSmoke, pineapple, orange
PalateRipe fruit, honey, vanilla, iodine
FinishShort, smoke, mineral, charred oak
Alcohol content80 proof (40% ABV)
How to drinkAdd water
Similar toArdbeg 10, Glenlivet 12

Nose hits with a strong smoky note from the peats used to dry the malted barley at first, followed by a hint of pineapple and citrus.

On the palate, Bowmore 12 has a medium body providing a pleasant mouthfeel. On the first sip I get ripe fruit and honey, along vanilla, a touch of iodine typical of Islay Whisky and just a tad of smoke.

The finish is short, with a subtle hint of smoke, a mineral note and charred oak from the bourbon barrels in which it was aged.

This is a good pour for those who want a subtle hint of smoke as this whisky is quite restrained when compared to other Islay releases as Bowmore only uses half as much peat to dry the malted barley.

Bowmore 12 lacks proof as it would be immensely better at 90 proof (45% ABV) and the finish is a bit short but a pleasant sip nonetheless, as it does not have any off-putting note and doesn’t feel hot providing a good experience.

I’ve included the Bowmore among the best 12 year single malt whiskies you can buy today!

There are a few facts worth knowing about this Scotch

  • Aged for a dozen years using ex-sherry and ex-bourbon barrels.
  • Gold medal at the 2018 San Francisco World Spirits Competition.
  • Gold at the International Wine and Spirits Competition 2013.
  • Bowmore is one of the few distilleries that continues to hand-turn, malt, and peat its own barley.
  • Bowmore was founded in 1779 being the oldest distillery of Islay and the second oldest in Scotland.

Lagavulin 16

NoseSmoke, vanilla, iodine
PalateSmoke, tobacco, seaweed, fresh fruit
FinishSmoke, fig, vanilla
Alcohol content86 proof (43% ABV)
How to drinkAdd water
Similar toTalisker 10, Glenlivet 18

Lagavulin 16 has a strong aroma of smoke and sea salt along sweet notes of vanilla and caramel.

Flavor is rich, with a delicious blast of smoke, caramel, along fruity sweetness. The peatiness is incredibly well balanced against some caramel sweetness, rich, smooth and delicious.

This whisky is creamy and smooth and pleasantly warm.

The finish is long, sweet and pleasantly warm, with more smoke to it.

Lagavulin 16 is a great malt with a strong but still enjoyable peaty profile with delicious sweetness.

The long aging period diminished the smoky notes a bit whilst adding the sweet vanilla from the bourbon barrels in which it was aged. This is one of the best peaty Scotch single malts in the market.

If you find yourself overwhelmed in smoke add a few drops of water, that will open-up the Lagavulin making it sweeter, while tuning-down the peat and will become easier to sip.

This is a Scotch to enjoy neat with a few drops of water to open it up making it more approachable.

Consider further options by reading my post with the best alternatives to Lagavulin 16!

There are a few facts worth knowing about the Lagavulin 16:

  • Named the “Best Single Malt Whisky” at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition in 2013.
  • 6 Double Gold Medals at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition.
  • Lagavulin distillery was founded in 1816 by John Johnston and Archibald Campbell, is located in the village of Lagavulin on the south of the island of Islay, Scotland.
  • Lagavulin is owned by Diageo and is a major contributor of malts to Johnnie Walker blends.

Bowmore 12 vs Lagavulin 16: Price comparison

Prices are approximate and stated in USD:

Bowmore 12$65
Lagavulin 16$105

Bowmore 12 vs Lagavulin 16: Which is better?

Lagavulin 16 is an intense experience

WhiskyBowmore 12Lagavulin 16
  • Bowmore is an introductory bottle to smoky whisky as it hits lightly with that note making it the better option for newbies or for those who prefer that smoke in moderation.
  • Those who prefer a more intense whisky, with a blast of smoke and peat will be better served with the Lagavulin 16 which is remarkably good but more demanding.
  • Lagavulin 16 requires some time to get acquainted to but once you come to terms with it you are unlikely to drink again lesser drams.