Bowmore distillery is one of seven distilleries located on the tiny Scottish island - one of the main whisky producing regions in Scotland noted for the peaty, smoky style of malts. Located at the shores of Loch Indaal, an arm of the Atlantic, Bowmore distillery is the second oldest distillery in Scotland established in 1788. The distillery is as much as part of the community in Islay. Generations of Ileachs have worked at Bowmore, the same job being passed from father to son. All of the employees at Bowmore are Islay born and bred, and almost everyone in the village has some connection to the distillery.
The distillery produces the wide range of medium-to-full-bodies malts including Bowmore Legend, 12, 15, 17, 21, 25, and 30-year-old. Bowmore ages its whisky in a combination of used bourbon barrels and sherry casks. The older the whisky, the greater the portion of sherry casks used. Bowmore's goal is to produce unique whiskies with exquisite balance - the harmonious marriage of the smokey, peaty, briny qualities that are so typical of the region with an incredible spectrum of flavors ranging from honey, heather, lavender and lemon to tropical fruit, chocolate and Oloroso sherry. One of the most distinctive features about Bowmore whisky is its briny edge. If you take a small portion of Bowmore, a salty taste might not come to you immediately but in five minutes, you will find a residue of salt on your upper lip.
The seaside location gives Bowmore its distinctive character. Bowmore draws its water from the Laggan River which originates in Pre-Cambrian rock, then flows through peat which adds its own special flavor on its way to the distillery. The distillery is constantly bathed in sea spray and salt-laden winds. This unique atmosphere contributes not just to Bowmore's salinity, but also to its complexity and its smoothness. Bowmore whiskies sleep in its 200-year-old warehouse sunk deep in the ground, three meters below sea level with waves lapping against its wall. The constantly moving, cool and salty air discourages harmful molds and bacteria during malting, fermentation and distilling.
The peat of Islay is also a contributing factor in Bowmore's style. Peat is partially carbonized vegetable composed of many different plant substances like sphagnum moss, heather, pine needles, grass and seaweed. Unlike the peat found on the mainland Scotland, Islay peat includes a component of seaweed and is full of salt, that contributes its particular salty edge and aroma.
Bowmore is one of four distilleries that still malts its own barley the traditional way. After being soaked in water, barley is spread out on vast malting floors to germinate. Germination produces a soluble form of starch, which will later be converted into sugar. The barley must be turned, plowed and raked by hand every four hours day and night for seven days. After malting, the barley is spread out on the wire-floors of an old-fashioned kiln to dry and cure, bathes in the aromatic smoke of peat. At Bowmore distillery, kilning is done in just 18 hours and utilizes only half as much peat as the other Islay distilleries noted for their very smokey, peaty style.
Today Bowmore distillery is owned by Japan's Suntory Limited, which also owns Auchentoshan (Lowlands) and Glen Garioch (Highlands) distilleries.
Scotch Whisky Region
Scotch Whisky Cocktails