At Bowmore, Pt. 1 (Summer 2017)


After Laphroaig, Bowmore was the Islay distillery I most wanted to visit. The distillery evokes a love-hate response from most whisky geeks and I’m one of those who is in the love camp, most of the time. (What can I say? I’m all about love and positivity.) And more than any distillery tour I’d wanted to do the Craftsman Tour at Bowmore, a 4 hour extravaganza that leads you through the entire process of whisky making and ends with a tasting session inside their legendary No. 1 vaults. Alas, I left making a reservation too late and they were full up the entire time that we were on Islay. On the plus side, it’s because of this that I ended up doing the Warehouse Experience at Lagavulin, and if you’ve read my report you know how happy I am to have done that. At Bowmore I contented myself with just the basic 1 hour distillery tour. I can tell you that this is a pretty good tour—probably better than the tour portion of the Laphroaig Distillers’ Wares experience and about 500 times better than the perfunctory tour at Talisker. This post, however, does not describe that tour—that’s coming on Friday. This post merely presents a look at the distillery grounds and the shop and visitor centre. I have too many pictures, you see, and can’t be arsed to crop and resize them all at once.

How many times do you have to come to Islay before signs like this stop giving you a little thrill?

Eagle-eyed readers will notice right away from the pictures that I went to Bowmore twice. Once on a grey day, once on a day with much brighter skies: it rained on both days. The first visit was actually a laundry run at the MacTaggart Leisure Centre right by the distillery—we had five days worth of laundry to do and the Leisure Centre had enough to keep the boys occupied while our clothes were washed and dried. To occupy myself I wandered over to the distillery, braving the incessant pissy drizzle, and wandered the visitor centre for a bit. Two days later I came back for the tour, which began with bright, blue skies, and ended with more pissy drizzle and grey skies. In either circumstance, it’s a distillery with a dramatic setting (right on the water) and a nice, welcoming feel. There’s a bit of a disconnect between the feel of the distillery proper and the feel of the visitor centre (more on this in the captions below) but it’s a nice place to visit even if you’re not doing a tour.

Come back on Friday if you’re interested in reading about the tour. In the meantime, maybe take a look at some of the pictures below.

Okay, that’s it for now. Come back on Friday for the distillery tour; and come back tomorrow if you’re interested in more food reports from Skye.

7 thoughts on “At Bowmore, Pt. 1 (Summer 2017)

  1. Great pics! Of course, I will check back on your blog on Friday to find out how you enjoyed the tour. I booked it (plus a complementing tasting) in April and had a fantastic time at Islay’s oldest distillery. In the following two days I spent on the isle, I returned to Bowmore once per day to have a dram in their bar while I was waiting for the connecting bus. I also published a little tour report on my blog, feel free to check it out if you got a few minutes. :)

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  2. What exactly makes their no. 1 vaults “legendary”?

    This is the kind of assertion that I always just see, well, asserted. Like Laphroaig’s “legendary” whatever-they-have. Yet I’ve never seen writing that actually DRAWS such a conclusion based on evidence. I’ve never seen a Bowmore review, for example, that ends with “Wow—what an outstanding whisky!!! Let me go check… yep, it’s from that No. 1 vault again! I should have known! That thing is really earning a reputation with me and my whisky buddies.”

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    • The No. 1 vaults warehouse is legendary not because of the whisky that’s emerged from it but because they’re very old and have the cachet of their location: right up against the sea. At this point it’s probably the case that they’re legendary for being legendary. The basic tour does take you into the No. 1 Vaults but only a bit of the way.

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