gavin smith

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by Gavin D Smith

Bowmore Distillery
School Street
Isle of Islay PA43 7JS

Tel: 01496 810441
Fax: 01496 810757

Bowmore is located just off the A846 Port Ellen to Port Askaig road, close to the centre of the town. Like all but one of Islay's working distilleries, it is situated beside the sea.


Bowmore boasts excellent visitor facilities, substantially revamped during 2006. The distillery tour includes an informative and entertaining video presentation, complementary dram, and a rare chance to see working floor maltings, while a specialist 'Craftsman's Tour' is also available. This gives visitors an opportunity to learn from members of staff with hands-on experience of making whisky. The distillery shop is open and tours are available from Easter to mid-September, Monday to Saturday. Also Sundays from July to mid-September. There is an admission charge.


The oldest distillery on Islay, Bowmore was founded in 1779 in the recently-established settlement of Bowmore by farmer and distiller David Simson. He sold the plant in 1837 to Glasgow-based William & James Mutter, previously owners of Jura distillery. The distillery ultimately came into the hands of whisky-brokers Stanley P Morrison Ltd in 1963, and in 1987 the firm, which also operates Auchentoshan and Glen Garioch distilleries, changed its trading name to Morrison Bowmore Ltd. Two years later, Japanese distilling giant Suntory acquired a 35 per cent stake in the company, and in 1994 took full control. Bowmore is one of only a handful of Scottish distilleries which still operates its own floor maltings, with three currently in use. They provide up to 40 per cent of the distillery's malt requirements. The distillery is proud of its environmental record, and in 1990 a warehouse was donated to the local community for conversion into a swimming pool. It is heated by hot water from the stillroom's condensers.


Bowmore operates two pairs of stills and has an annual capacity of 2.2 million litres of alcohol. The malt is peated to 20-25ppm, and both ex-Bourbon and ex-Sherry casks are used for maturation.

The spirit

Medium-bodied, smoky, slightly medicinal, with a hint of Sherry and chocolate. The principal single malt expressions are Bowmore 12-year-old, 15-year-old Darkest, 18 and 25-year-old.

read tasting notes on Bowmore's whiskies


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