gap Home Help Scotland Speyside West Isles Search
Navigation toolbar
Home | Help | Scotland | Speyside | West Isles | Search

[Photo] [Next]


No: 3
Producer: Morrison Bowmore
Region: Islay
District: Loch Indaal  -   Multimap view
OS Sheet 60 ; Map reference NR 307 598 ; Latitude 55 45.2° N, Longitude 6 17° W
Founded 1779 ; Operating Status (1999): operating

One of the great malt distilleries, in the village of Bowmore, "capital" of Islay. The village is in the middle of the island on the inlet called Loch Indaal. The water rises from peat and flows by way of the river Laggan [] for about eight miles to the distillery. The company has its own maltings and uses a fairly gentle technique of peating there. The maturation warehouses are doused with four or five feet of water at high tide but this shore is less exposed than the south. All of these factors and a great deal of care at a model distillery create the Bowmore character.
© Michael Jackson 1994

The distillery is Morrison's "flagship" and was founded in 1779 by a local merchant, John Simpson. It was one of the first legal distilleries on the island and was purchased by Stanley P. Morrison Ltd in 1963. Morrison substantially rebuilt and renovated much of the distillery though he retained the original floor maltings. The distillery currently operates four stills.

Distillery rating: 4*

Bowmore, Isle of Islay, Argyll, PA43 7JS
Tel: 01496-81671 or 01496-81044


"1970", 86 proof
Rich and smooth, with the characteristic peat and trace of iodine of Islay. [lh]

SMWS bottling 3.14
I certainly have no problem recommending that one. It seems to get better as I go through the bottle: now I'm detecting a rich chocolately-ness, a bit like Dallas Dhu, along with smoke, peat and just a hint of seaweed. An excellent whisky all around. I've been using a dilution factor of approx 4:1 (whisky:water). [rs]

SMWS bottling 3.27: 17 yo, distilled 1976
This is the one I bought to take home. Perfectly balanced, rich, with the Islay character recognisable but (unlike the Port Ellen) not excluding everything else. I like this sort of thing so much that I don't know how to describe it. [jw, 1995]

Bowmore 12 yo
The 12 year-old? 10 YO is more common, but the 12 YO is better. Bowmore is lovely, considerably less peaty and phenolic than Laphroaig, Lagavulin and Ardbeg and less smoky than Lagavulin and some Port Ellen's. It has a definite edge of salt and iodine with an odd perfumey taste (similar to rose water) which some, though not most in my experience, dislike. A personal favourite of mine, possibly the most rounded of the Islays, though many would pick Lagavulin for that category. [tr, 1995]

The distillery 12 has always seemed lopsided and awkward to me, and a poor introduction to a great whisky. The distillery 17 is *much* better, with an idiosyncratic but very nearly perfect sense of balance of peat and perfume, terrific complexity without sacrificing finesse, and a nicely moderate body. I think it's *the* great whisky of Islay, or at least one of the two greats (along with Lagavulin). [rs]

Hear "Bowmore" pronounced in AU or WAV format
Search Dr. Do'g's index for the history of Bowmore
There just might be some news about Bowmore in The "Scotsman" newspaper