With over two centuries of experience in manufacturing some of the world’s most iconic and rare scotch whiskies, such as the legendary Black Bowmore 1964, the Bowmore Distillery has earned its title of being one of the leading distilleries in the world. Bowmore is one of the few distilleries in Scotland with a self-sufficient malting floor, which produces approximately 35% of the malt required for the spirit’s production. The other part of the needed malt is produced at Port Ellen Maltings, with specifications provided by the Bowmore master distillers to maintain the peaty character of Bowmore Single Malt Whisky.
Located in Islay’s authentic and historical capital Bowmore, fronting the embankment of Loch Indaal, the Bowmore Distillery is definitely one of the most beautiful and most characteristic distilleries to be found on Islay. Due to its charm, beautiful location and iconic bottlings, the Bowmore Distillery is one of Islay’s most visited distilleries. During the annual Feis Ile festival, over thousands of whisky enthusiasts form a queue reaching even beyond the distillery’s premises, in the hopes of acquiring one of the much desired hand-filled special whisky releases for Bowmore Feis Ile.
The Bowmore Distillery history is an astonishing success story, as it’s one of Scotland’s oldest distilleries -and Islay’s oldest operating distillery. Bowmore was founded by a merchant named David Simpson in 1779, who remained at the helm of the distillery until it was sold to William and James Mutter in 1837. James Mutter was a farmer, a distiller, a steamship owner and the Brazilian, Portuguese and Ottoman vice-consul in Glasgow, who delivered an important contribution to the expansion of the distillery. In addition to producing the distillery’s barley, James Mutter used his steamship to distribute barley and coal, and eventually to ship Bowmore’s bottlings back to the mainland of Scotland.
The distillery changed hands multiple times throughout the following years, until it was acquired by Stanley P. Morrison in 1963 who renovated many of the distillery premises, which modifications such as the malting floors are still present today. The Japanese Suntory Ltd. bought 35% of the Morrison Bowmore’s shares in 1989, until finally in 1994 the Bowmore Distillery became 100% ownership of Suntory.
One of the Bowmore Distillery’s old warehouses is converted into the MacTaggart Leisure Centre, which is a modern wellness center including a swimming pool, fitness studio, sports shop and sauna! Underground pipes and a computer controlled system provide the opportunity to recycle the distillery’s waste heat, which is used to heat the water of the swimming pool. This offers a very environmentally friendly accommodation to serve the local inhabitants and the distillery’s visitors!
During the Second World War the Bowmore harbor was confiscated by the Air Ministry, who had the distillery’s premises provided as a base to track down German submarines.