The oldest distillery on Islay, Bowmore competes with Macallan and Dalmore as a prestigious brand with an enviable market share. Their collectable bottles, such as the Black Bowmore, frequently change hands for thousands of pounds, and a bottling from 1850 (therefore predating the majority of modern-day distilleries) was sold in 2007 for nearly £30,000. Situated in the capital of Islay, the town that gives it its name, the distillery maintains as much of the traditional method as is feasible for such an in-demand product: they maintain their own floor maltings, source as much barley as possible from the island, and cut their peat from the adjacent fields.
The heat produced as a by-product of the distillation process is used to heat Islay’s public swimming pool, which is situated in one of the distillery’s former warehouses. Another of their warehouses, the famous No.1 vaults, is the oldest in-use warehouse in Scotland and the only one situated below sea level. In this environment, Bowmore’s spirit slumbers in state-of-the-art sherry casks, destined eventually to be married together in one of their premium expressions of uniquely complex lightly peated Islay single malt. It carries a distinctive flavour of parma violets or ‘Fisherman’s Friend’cough sweets, while each of their major expressions bears the traces of maturation in different cask types.