Bowmore Distillery Tour and Tasting (Tour)

Bowmore Distillery Tour & Tasting (Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky Distillery Tour Experience Tasting BarleyMania)

When I told Beam Suntory’s Brand Ambassador Gordon Dundas after his masterclass at BorderShop Whisky Festival that I had a trip to Islay planned, he had but one piece of advice for me: “Go and see Bowmore distillery. All the others are great too, but if you can only visit one distillery, it has to be the oldest!”. While I was thankfully able to pop in on more than one of Islay’s eight operational distilleries during my three-day stay, I happily followed up on Gordon’s recommendation and made Bowmore my first destination. So shortly after my girlfriend and I arrived on the island by plane from Glasgow, we rented bikes, cycled 10 miles from Port Charlotte to Bowmore and participated in the standard distillery tour plus the “Unlock Hidden Depths” tasting.

Located in the center of Bowmore, no two minutes by foot from the town’s only bus stop, Islay’s oldest (and Scotland’s second-oldest) whisky making site is really easy to reach, no matter on which part of the island you are housed – in fact, we ended up visiting Bowmore’s beautiful tasting bar once a day to bridge the wait for a connecting bus with a wee dram. The prices were moderate, the personnel was really nice and the view over Loch Indaal was breathtaking! Oh, and the bottles put on display there – including the distillery’s unaffordable 54yo or the complete Legend collection – drew more than just a quick glimpse from me, too.

But back to our tour. After we had made ourselves comfortable at the bar for a few minutes, our guide Amy, who worked at Glen Garioch before, picked us up and showed us around. We started in the malt barn and ended in the legendary No.1 Vault warehouse. Along the way, Amy not only explained each step of the whisky making procedure in detail, but also let us gain a lot of hands-on experience. Among others, we got to turn the still-damp barley with a rake and throw a chunk of peat into the kiln (luckily, Bowmore was having its twice-a-week “smoking day” when we visited). This was a lot of fun and made the experience really tangible. And that is also why I strongly recommend you to take a distillery tour if you have the chance to do so. While a report like this can give you an idea of what to expect, there are a lot of sensations a text can never convey: burying your hands in the fresh barley, smelling all the different fumes in the mash house, sustaining the heat in the still room and, of course, having all your questions answered on the spot by a guide as friendly and knowledgable as Amy.

Once our tour was over, Amy’s lovely colleague Lauren – an Islay native – took over. In the course of the “Unlock Hidden Depths” tasting, she served us four very nice Bowmore whiskies, namely the 10yo, the No.1, the 15yo and the distillery-exclusive Stillmen’s Selection. Before we eyed, smelled, tasted and discussed each of them, however, we tried three other drinks: Bowmore’s new make, an Oloroso sherry by Gonzalez Byass and a bourbon by Jim Beam. Wait!? How the heck did the last two end up in an Islay malt tasting? The answer is simple. They are the liquids that first occupied many of the casks that Bowmore distillery uses to mature its whisky in. So giving us the chance to sip on a sherry and a bourbon on the side was of tremendous help when it came to analyzing how each expression got its unique flavor and character. A fantastic idea that made a great tasting even more unique and memorable!

by Tobi

Name: Bowmore Distillery
Type: Whisky distillery
Address: Bowmore Distillery, School St, Bowmore, Isle Of Islay, PA43 7JS, Scotland
Opening hours: 9.15am till 5pm (Mon to Sat), 12pm till 4pm (Sun)
More info: (Website)


    1. Cheers, iLaddie. Glad to hear you enjoyed this blog. Of course, you are welcome to reblog it. I spent 2,5 days on Islay in total. In the next days, I will also write posts on my visits at Laphroaig and Kilchoman as well as a little travel report covering the trip in general. When you start planning your trip and have any questions, feel free to ask me anytime. I am not exactly an expert when it comes to traveling, but maybe that will even be of help here. If I managed to arrive on Islay, so will you and anyone else heading for that beautiful island! :)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks! I already been ones and wrote extensive blogs about it. But I totally missed out on bowmore, bunna and coal ila. So next time I will visit there too


  1. Reblogged this on iLaddie and commented:
    I have been to Islay before but missed out on the Bowmore distillery. This excellent blog by Barleymania is for future reference so I can remind myself what to do next time I visit Islay. Thanks for letting me reblog your blog dude!


  2. Sounds like an incredible experience! If & when I ever get to Scotland in general (& Islay in particular), I will not want to miss this tour. Thanks for Shari!


    1. Thank you, Tammy! Islay was definitely an experience I will never forget. Catching the Bowmore tour is highly recommended and so is pretty much every other activity on the island. Having arrived there on a Wednesday morning and left on a Friday afternoon, I did not have time to see all distilleries. And I also missed most of the old ruins, like Finlaggan Castle. But even in the short time I spent on Islay, it felt as if I really grew close with the beautiful nature, the warmhearted people and, of course, the outstanding whisky. I will definitely go back there someday and see some of the parts that I did not visit this time. I might also take time to travel to Jura then.

      Liked by 1 person

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