Islay, Scotland

Bowmore Whisky Distillery is a distillery of many distinctions. In operation since 1779, it has the distinction of being Islay’s oldest distillery and Scotland’s second oldest.

It also has the distinction of being only one of five distilleries in Scotland to produce its own floor malted barley. At Bowmore, the Maltman is responsible for using traditional methods of hand-turning the barley with a wooden shovel to produce about a third of the distillery’s requirements (the rest is obtained from the nearby Port Ellen maltings).

In addition, Bowmore can also boast the honour of being the only distillery to have been visited by Queen Elizabeth, who graced Islay’s shores in August 1980. Ever the impeccable host, Bowmore apparently arranged for a Rolls Royce to be ferried across to the island so that Her Majesty could be driven around in the style to which she was accustomed. Unfortunately, the car didn’t develop any sea legs on its journey across the water, and it arrived with a few bumps and bruises that required emergency repairs. These were completed successfully, and the car was ready by the time the Queen required the use of the car.

The distillery can also claim to be the only one responsible for heating a swimming pool and saving Islay’s residents from having to take their dips in the freezing cold sea. In 1991, Bowmore donated its No 3 warehouse to the island to be converted into the MacTaggart Leisure Centre and Swimming Pool. This was the first indoor swimming pool on Islay, and the distillery’s recycled hot water is used to heat the pool.

Last but not least, Bowmore also has the distinction of having had a bottle of its whisky held to ransom. In 1999, a rare bottle of Bowmore 40 year old was stolen from a shop in Edmonton, Canada. The bottle in question, one of a limited range of only 294, was valued at $8000, although the whiskynappers only demanded a ransom of $2500. The ransom was never paid, however, and consequently, to this day, the bottle and its kidnappers remain at large.

Curious to taste some of this distinctive whisky? Buy some Bowmore now.

At a glance: Bowmore Whisky Tasting Notes

Bowmore Distillery Contact Details

Address: Bowmore, Islay, PA43 7JS
Telephone number: +44 (0) 1496 81 0441

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