Bowmore distillery

Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky

Its smoke, reminiscent of beach bonfires, mingles with a distinctly saline note, flowers, cereal, citrus and underneath a touch of tropical fruit. It is this character which, when matured in refill casks for a long period of time, becomes the primary aroma, the peat seemingly disappearing completely.

A significant percentage of the make is aged in ex-Sherry butts which take Bowmore off in another direction – one of dark fruits, chocolate, coffee, citrus and smoke. The extensive range picks and chooses between these extremes. A significant percentage of the distillery’s whisky is matured on the island, with the distillery’s No.1 Vaults being held to have the most extraordinary microclimate. This chill, damp environment – the vault is below the level of Loch Indaal and one wall makes up the town’s sea wall – is seen as ideal for long-term maturation.

  • Region
  • Production type
    Single malt
  • Distillery Status

Bowmore History

There are claims that Bowmore’s distillery started operation in 1779, but there’s no evidence of whisky being made until a certain John Simpson took out a licence in 1816. It wouldn’t be until 1837 when the Glasgow blending firm, Wm & Jas. Mutter took over that it began to gain traction and reputation. In 1841, Windsor Castle requested a cask of Bowmore – this being a time when the English palate was considered too delicate (or Scotch too bold). As often happens, the distillery passed through a number of hands before in this case it was bought, in 1963, by broker Stanley P. Morrison. The Morrison era saw the start of what is recognised as a legendary period in Bowmore’s history – its mid-1960s bottlings are legendary.

The distillery was substantially modernised with an innovative heat recovery system not only cutting down on fuel bills but creating sufficient excess hot water to heat the town’s swimming pool. In 1989 the Japanese distiller Suntory bought stake in the distillery and took full control in 1994, the year after the ground-breaking Black Bowmore was launched. This 100% Sherry-aged release was sold for what at the time was seen as the ludicrously inflated price of £100.

In 2014 Suntory bought Jim Beam which, from an Islay perspective, sees two of Islay’s most iconic single malts (Bowmore and Laphroaig) under the same ownership. 


  • 1779 Bowmore supposedly begins distilling, although the date is contested
  • 1816 John Simpson applies for a license to distil at Bowmore
  • 1837 Glaswegian blending firm Wm & Jas Mutter buy the distillery
  • 1841 Windsor Castle orders a cask of Bowmore
  • 1963 Stanley P. Morrison acquires the distillery
  • 1989 Japanese drinks group Suntory buy a stake in the distillery
  • 1994 Suntory takes full control of Bowmore
  • 1995 Black Bowmore, a 100% sherry-aged whisky, is launched
  • 2014 Suntory acquires Beam, and along with it a second Islay distillery in the shape of Laphroaig

Bowmore Facts

  • Capacity (mlpa) i
  • Condenser Type i
    Shell and tube
  • Fermentation Time i
    Minimum 48hrs
  • Filling Strength i
  • Grist Weight (t) i
  • Heat Source i
    Steam from oil boiler
  • Malt Specification i
  • Malt Supplier i
    Simpson's in Berwick-upon-Tweed
  • Mash Tun Type i
    Semi Lauter
  • New-make Phenol Level i
  • New-make Strength i
  • Single Malt Percentage i
  • Spirit Still Charge (l) i
  • Stills i
    4 (2 wash, 2 spirit)
  • Warehousing i
    Two dunnage and one racked
  • Wash Still Charge (l) i
  • Washback Size (l) i
  • Washback Type i
  • Washbacks i
  • Water Source i
    River Laggan
  • Wort Clarity i
  • Yeast Type i
    25kg Kerry, 75kg Mauri


Parent company

Current owner

Previous owners

  • Suntory Holdings 1994 - 2014
  • Morrison Bowmore Distillers 1987 - 1994
  • Stanley P Morrison 1963 - 1987
  • William Grigor & Sons 1950 - 1963
  • JB Sheriff & Co 1925 - 1950
  • Joseph Robert Holmes 1892 - 1925
  • William & Jas Mutter 1837 - 1890
  • John Simpson 1826 - 1837
  • John Johnston 1825 - 1826
  • John Simpson 1816 - 1818


Bowmore Distillery
School Street
Isle of Islay
PA43 7JS
United Kingdom
Visit Website
+44 1496 810441
Send Email
Visitor Opening Hours
9am to 5pm
9am to 5pm
9am to 5pm
9am to 5pm
9am to 5pm
9am to 12.30pm (Oct-Mar), 5pm (Apr-Sept)
noon to 4pm (Apr-Sept)


See also

  • Port Askaig Port Askaig Port Askaig Brand

    Port Askaig

    A curated collection of single malts.

  • Elements of Islay Elements of Islay Elements of Islay Brand

    Elements of Islay

    Quirky independent bottling series.

  • Morrison Glasgow Distillers Morrison Glasgow Distillers Morrison Glasgow Distillers Distiller

    Morrison Glasgow Distillers

    Holding company overseeing the construction and operation of the Clydeside distillery in Glasgow.

  • Clydeside Clydeside Clydeside Distillery


    The new addition to Glasgow’s distilling revival is a blend of tradition and originality.

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