I recently picked up whisky drinking in Japan, a bad habit, I know, but the relative affordability compared to my home country of Singapore (3x the prices), and after trying the Hibiki 30 years as my first whisky, made me addicted to the “hobby.”

Look at the unbelievable prices for a bottle of Hibiki 30 year. You can potentially buy an old car

I am not a rich man by any measure, yet I believe in trying my best to enjoy my hobby. Subsequently, I endeavored to buy good whisky within my means. I spend no more than 30,000 per month buying bottles here and there to try.

Why buy bottles, you may ask. Why not drink in a bar? In my quest for the best value, I found that buying bottles of reasonably aged whiskies made far more sense in the long run, especially since I can probably get a bottle for the price of a few drams in a high end whisky bar.

This leads me to my first favored whisky, the Bowmore 12 years old. One can get this bottle from 3200 to 3500 yen, tax included, from places ranging from Bic Camera to Amazon JP. Good liquor shops will definitely stock a bottle of this. I suspect the wide availability in Japan is due to Bowmore Distillery being under the Beam Suntory Holdings group, one of the largest beverage companies in Japan (or globally).

Nose: Typical Islay smoke. Not as strong as Laphroaig or Ardbeg. Smokey whisky lovers will enjoy this very much. You can definitely smell sweetness underneath the smoke.

Palate: Has an excellent body or mouth feel. Says 43% on the bottle but it doesn’t really feel watered down to me. Makes me feel warm and fuzzy for some reason. The smoke gives way to caramel sweetness, reminds me of butterscotch.

Finish: The smoke lingers, the finish is rather long and rather enjoyable.

Conclusion: For under 3500 per bottle, the Bowmore 12 is a keeper. If you like your whiskies smokey but with an underlying sweetness to temper the smokiness, give this a a try!