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My Handcrafted Opinions on Whiskies, Distilleries and Other Related Stuff

Bowmore, Islay, Scotland

Probably my favorite distillery tour and experience to date. I visited in July 2010 and after a couple of days touring Islay’s distilleries Tammy and Eleanor had seen enough and let me go alone, with a plan to meet in the tasting room at end of the tour. It turned out it was the last tour of the day and I was the only person who signed up, so it felt like I had the entire place to myself and my guide was happy to indulge every question I had, and without larger group I could indulge myself in the minutia of the place. Effectively it was a private tour of Bowmore, and the notes I took that day show that being alone had liberated my inner “whisky anorak” who normally stays safely hidden in the group tours. Not only was the tour perfect, but the subsequent tasting in a great room overlooking the Loch was well organized, fun, informative and innovative (they gave food samples like coconut, chocolate and raisins to help match tastes in the whisky). We tried a range of whiskies from their parent company, Auchentoshan, Glen Garioch and of course Bowmore. Perhaps with it being the last tour of the day they were also generous with pours and allowed us to retry samples while giving our daughter sweets and juice to keep her happy as well. Personally I fell in love with the rich, highly sherried Bowmore Darkest 15 year old that afternoon, and while it has never tasted quite as good as it did that perfect day in the distillery, it is still a 4 star whisky for me and my “go to” Bowmore.

If you go to Islay and only do one tour (which would not be a great idea in itself, stay and do more) I would say do this one and I can only hope you have same great experience I did.

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Glengoyne, Dumgoyne, Scotland

Glengoyne, Dumgoyne, Scotland

If the Mayans were correct, the world was going to end on December 21st 2012. I decided that if that was going to be my last day I was going to spend a little time that day at a distillery. Glengoyne has a picture perfect setting with a waterfall outside the very nice visitor center. They offer a variety of tours (based on the tasting at the end) and allowed our daughter to come along as well.   Overall I thought tour was good, a short video at the beginning along with a dram of Glengoyne 12 year old and a well stocked shop, (but they did charge us for the tour). One observation was that they use one wash still with two spirit stills, rather than the usual wash still and spirit still pair. However what was most interesting to me was that they were very proud of fact they are technically a Highland distillery and even pointed out that the road that runs outside the distillery is the boundary between the highlands and lowlands. If they were on other side of road they would be a lowland distillery. I have stated before that I don’t think it would be a bad thing for them to style themselves as a lowland distillery, as today they are just another Highland distillery, but they obviously feel differently. But the thing is, and I think it is quite a thing, that they mature their whisky across the road; technically in the lowlands. Most people suggest maturation accounts for around 60% - 70% of taste of final product and Glengoyne mature their spirit in the lowlands! So you could argue the final product is more lowland than highland.

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