Bowmore

ISLAY, SCOTLAND

Bowmore was the whisky that made me realise there was more to this spirit than Grouse, and to this day, I really like their single malts.  Established in 1779 by John P. Simpson, the distillery produced the first Islay Malt and was very rapidly sold to a German family, the Mutters.  Over the next century it went through numerous company's hands until it was bought in 1994 by Japanese distiller, Suntory, where it remains to this day.

With a capacity of two million litres per year, Bowmore sources as much barley as possible from Islay, but due to demand for the whisky they do need to bring in more grain from the mainland.  Similarly with the malting process, they do have a traditional floor malting, but once again, it can't keep up with demand, so malting is done elsewhere.  The one thing they do have enough of is water, which comes from the Laggan River, and this important element helps make Bowmore one of the most balanced Islay whiskies.

A significant feature of Bowmore is the No. 1 Vaults.  The only maturation warehouse below sea level, it is damp and cold and perfect for ageing whisky, and is also the oldest warehouse in Scotland.