- Pronunciation: BO-more
- Meaning: Great sea-reef or sea rock
- Founded: 1779
- Region: Islay
- Status: Operational
- Owner: Morrison Bowmore (Suntory)
- Production Capacity: 2,000,000 litres a year
Founded just eleven years after the town with which it shares its name, Bowmore is Islay's oldest distillery. Located on the shore of the awe inspiring Loch Indaal, Bowmore's atmosphere is warm and pleasant. However this and we are sure other reasons made it a prime location for the RAF, who used it as a coastal command during the second world war.
Having changed hands numerous times over its long history, Bowmore is now owned by Suntory, who also operate Auchentoshan and Glen Garioch.
Current releases are a 12 year old, a sherry casked 15 year old ‘Darkest’ and an 18 year old. They also have available in its fourth annual release a cask strength small batch 10 year old, known as the Tempest, a 23 year old port cask maturation from 1989 and a 25 year old.
The current 23 year old isn't Bowmore's first foray into port finishes. Both the Bowmore Dawn and Bowmore Voyage were port finished, now both only rarely available. For more limited appeal, a collection of vintage releases existed from 1989 and 1990, one of which, a 16 year old, was matured in port alongside a 16 year old bourbon cask, a 16 year old bordeaux finish and a 16 year old Oloroso sherry.
Each year, along with the other Islay distilleries Bowmore release Feis Ile bottles. These have been known to be a mixture of young and old Bowmores.
Unlike many of the other Islay distillers, Bowmore has released quite a number of vintages, ranging as far back as the 1960’s.The most famous of these are the ‘Black Bowmores’ from 1964. Three editions were released in the mid 90s, originally retailing at £70. They are now fetching well over £3,000. Ten years after these famous releases, Bowmore re-created the series, bottling a new ‘Black Bowmore’ from 1964 aged for a total of 42 years, closely followed by the ‘White Bowmore’, 43 years old and the ‘Gold Bowmore’, 44 years old. These three bottles are certainly worth getting your hands on!
Oddbins also exclusively sold a single cask hogshead from 1964, with only 99 bottles of the 35 year old available and they were presented in an ornate wooden box with functional lock and key.
Many other vintages followed the 1960’s, particularly from the 1980s, such as the more recent 1981, 1982, 1984 and 1985, all now sold out and popping up at auction.
The mid nineties saw Bowmore release a 30 year old, colloquially known as ‘The Sea Dragon’ or ‘The Dragon’. Drawn from the popular 1960s casks, the whisky was bottled in a black ceramic decanter. 1960s casks were also used for the 1979 bi-centenary release, a sherried vatting that is widely regarded as being one of the tastiest Bowmores.
Last and by no means least, you may have heard of the Bowmore Devil’s cask, released in October 2013 for £50. There were less than 6,000 bottled.The 540 bottles allocated to the U.K quickly sold out and these are expected to be a popular auction item in the future.