Bowmore was one of the first distilleries to be granted a licence on Islay and remains one of the Hebridean island’s most iconic whisky producers.
While the distillery was officially founded in 1779, some believe it could have been producing whisky as much as a decade earlier.
The distillery, located on the south eastern shores of Loch Indaal, is named after the island’s capital. It had a slew of owners until Glasgow whisky broker Stanley P Morrison took over the distillery in 1963. Bottlings from this time are considered by many to be some of the finest whiskies ever produced.
Jim McEwan started his career as an apprentice cooper at Bowmore in 1963. He worked as Master Distiller for 38 years and produced some of the finest whiskies on the market during his tenure. McEwan left Bowmore in 2001 to join the Bruichladdich resurrection project. In 1993, 100% Sherry-aged Black Bowmore was released. It has since become one of the most collectable and best-selling whiskies on the market. The whisky got its name because the liquid was so dark it was almost black in colour. Around this time, the distillery moved production away from coal fire to steam, heralding a period of modernisation.
In 2008, a mere 732 bottles of White Bowmore – matured in Bourbon casks – were released. The following year, 44-year-old single malt Gold Bowmore completed the trilogy. At the time, Gold Bowmore was the oldest release from the Islay distillery. It was matured in three Bourbon casks and a single Oloroso cask before being married together.
Laphroaig and Bowmore have been under the same ownership since Suntory bought Jim Beam in 2014.