Bowmore distillery information

The oldest distillery on the Isle of Islay (and perhaps even Scotland), Bowmore was founded in 1779 by John P. Simpson; a local merchant. It takes its name from the town of Bowmore, which is the capital of the isle. The town is located in the middle of the island, along a sea loch called Loch Indaal. The distillery first changed hands in 1837, when it was purchased from the Simpson family by William and James Mutter, the latter of whom was acting consul for the Ottoman empire, Brazil and Portugal in Glasgow. The distillery again passed hands in 1925, this time to J.B. Sheriff & Co, who operated it under the name of Sherriff’s Bowmore Distillery Ltd. It remained in their hands until 1950, when it was purchased by William Grigor & Son, Ltd. from Inverness.

The Bowmore Distillery

The Bowmore Distillery

They in turn went bankrupt in 1963, and the distillery was bought for the sum of  117,000 GBP by Stanley P. Morrison Ltd., who increased the amount of stills to 4. In 1970, they also purchased the Highland distillery Glen Garioch. In 1987, the name of the holding company was changed to Morrison Bowmore Distillers Ltd. in 1987, and got bought up by the Japanese Suntory (who also own Auchentoshan) group in 1994, and has remained in their hands since.

The stillroom at the Bowmore distillery

The stillroom at the Bowmore distillery

Bowmore whisky

The whisky made at Bowmore seems to be a bit of a complex mix between the peaty Southern Islay whiskies like Ardbeg, Laphroaig, Lagavulin and Port Ellen, and the somewhat milder and fruitier northern Islay whiskies like Bruichladdich, Bunnahabhain and Caol Ila.

The core range:

  • Legend; matured in North American Bourbon barrels.
  • Small Batch; matured in first and second fill ex-Bourbon casks, and then married together.
  • 12 Years Old
  • 15 Years Old ‘Darkest’; matured in a combination of Bourbon and Sherry casks, and finished for 3 years in Oloroso Sherry casks.
  • 18 Years Old
  • 25 Years Old; matured in a combination of Bourbon and Sherry casks.

Travel Exclusive range:

  • Black Rock; predominantly matured in ex-Sherry casks.
  • Gold Reef; matured mostly in 1st fill ex-Bourbon casks.
  • White Sands; matured in ex-Bourbon casks.
  • Springtide; matured in Spanish Oloroso casks, and bottled at cask-strength.
  • 1984; limited to 500 bottles worldwide, the 1984 has matured in Bourbon and Sherry casks.

Limited editions:

  • The 50 Year Old; distilled in December 1961, and laid down in ex-Bourbon hogshead casks. Limited to 200 bottles.
  • Devils Casks; matured in 1st fill ex-Sherry casks. 10 Years Old. Cask strength.
  • Tempest; 10 Years Old, matured in 1st fill Bourbon casks. Cask strength.
  • Laimrig; 15 Years Old, matured in Sherry butts. Cask Strength.
  • 1981; 28 Years Old, limited to 402 bottles.
  • 1982; 29 Years Old.
  • 1985; 26 Years Old, matured in a mix of Bourbon and Sherry casks. Cask Strength. Limited to 747 bottles.
  • Black Bowmore 1964; matured in Oloroso casks. 827 bottles.
  • White Bowmore 1964; 43 Years old. Matured in Bourbon casks. 732 bottles.
  • Gold Bowmore 1964; Matured in 3 Bourbon and 1 Oloroso cask. 701 bottles.
  • 40 Years Old; distilled in 1969, and matured in American Bourbon casks. Limited to 53 bottles.
  • 1964 Fino; matured first in North American Bourbon, followed by a Fino Sherry cask.
  • 1957; 54 Years Old (making it the oldest Bowmore expression ever). Limited to 12 bottles.
  • 23 Year Old; 23 Years Old, matured in port casks.

Distillery info:

Water sourceLaggan River
Owned byMorrison Bowmore Distillers Ltd / Suntory

Bowmore Distillery
Islay - Argyll
PA43 7JS

+44 (0) 1496 810 441

Visitor centreYes
CommunityThe Inner Core

Distillery Setup:

Mash tun8 tonnes1
Washback40,000 litres6 (Oregon pine)
Wash still30,940 litres2
Spirit Still14,750 / 14,637 litres2
Expected yearly output in LPA (Litres of pure alcohol)1,860,000