Bowmore is one of those names that everybody vaguely familiar with whisky will recognize. No wonder! It has a long and rich history and can boast that it was the first distillery on Islay to obtain legal status back in 1779.
This Islay distillery sits on the shore of Loch Indaal in the centre of the town of Bowmore from which the distillery takes its name. Bowmore is also distinguished for producing the oldest ever Islay malt, being a 1957 malt bottled at 54 years old in a crystal decanter with a price tag of around £100,000. That's expensive whisky!
The company has changed hands a number of times in the 200+ years since it was founded. The current owner is the Japanese beverage giant Suntory, who acquired 100% ownership in 1994 after an initial purchase of a 34% stake five years earlier.
On top of owning Bowmore, Suntory also owns Laphroaig, Ardmore, Auchentoshan and Glen Garioch along with American and Japanese brands.
The distillery is one of the few that still have a working malting on site, malting a large portion of the barley which goes into making its whisky.
Style wise Bowmore is peated and lighter than many of the heavier Islay whiskies. Typical flavours are light smoke, sherry sweetness and dried fruits but many older bottlings also contain floral notes, especially violets. While these are the traditional flavours of Bowmore, it's worth remembering that they might not be the ones that you find in indie bottlings!