Bowmore Distillery
Isle of Islay, Scotland

Click and watch a video (5:00 min.) of a Bowmore Distillery guided tour
(courtesy of Erik de Vries, The Netherlands)


I visited the Bowmore Distillery on Islay in 1988, 1997, 2001, 2004 & 2006. During my visit in the summer of 2004 I took some amazing pictures at good weather conditions. Here you'll find some information about Bowmore distillery and some of my nicest pictures.


With its classic whitewashed buildings and black trimmed windows, Bowmore distillery settles expansively along the shore of Loch Indaal, its pagoda-topped chimneys rising grandly above the Town's High Street. While its frontage is unmistakably Islay, with one seashore warehouse emblazoned "BOWMORE" in large bold letters, its malts have a fine character all their own.


It is the oldest licensed distillery on Islay, founded in 1779 by farmer David Simpson, and one of the first to offer its product widely as a single malt whisky. In the 1880's and 1890's Bowmore Islay whisky was sold throughout Brittain, Ireland and Canada. The focal point of the town is a round church at the top of the hill, with no corners in which the devil could hide. This is certainly a distillery rich in legends - indeed, its most popular single malt is named Bowmore Legend.


The management flirted briefly with stainless steel washbacks in the 1980's, but reverted to traditional wooden washbacks and floor maltings in the 1990's. Some of the barley is still malted by hand on a traditional malting floor and partially dried over a peat fire, the peat being first crumbled to generate more smoke. Bowmore is only medium peated, however, with about half the phenols of its neighbours round the coast at Lagavulin, Laphroaig and Ardbeg, and as such it is not typically Islay.

Its water is drawn from the river Laggan and it operates a copper-domed mash tun, 4 Oregon pine washbacks and 4 pot stills. The whisky is matured in Spanish and American oak casks, some stored in the famous Bowmore No.1 Vaults below sea level, and about a third are prepared with oloroso sherry. The warm water from the condensers is used to heat a swimming pool in a former warehouse, converted by the distillery for the use of the residents.

Bowmore Distillery manager David Turner in the famous Bowmore No.1 Vaults

Bowmore distillery has an excellent visitor centre offering an audio-visual presentation, tours and tastings. The visitor centre and a well-stocked shop are open all year.

 (source: "Whisky Classified" by David Wishart 2002)


Click and watch: Bowmore The Distillers Art Part 1 (YouTube video 3:14 min.)
with distillery manager Eddie MacAffer
Click and watch: Bowmore The Distillers Art Part 2 (YouTube video 3:29 min.)
with my friend and head distiller David Turner
Click and watch: Bowmore The Distillers Art Part 3 (YouTube video 8:09 min.)
with one of the three still men James MacTaggart





  Updated 19-08-2022


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