We kick off our brand-new Whisky Wisdom blog series with an interview with Distillery Manager David Turner who works for the island’s very first recorded distillery, Bowmore, founded in 1779.
Islay is famously associated with peaty, smoky whiskies with the island now home to nine world-renowned whisky distilleries, with even more to come!
Love it or loath it, its popularity is growing faster than ever. Just last year, the most expensive cask of whisky sold for a whopping £16m to a female private collector in Asia.
Just what is it that makes people go wild about whisky? And what is it like working inside one of the nine distilleries on Islay?
Find out about David’s role at Bowmore, his favourite things to do on Islay, and what he recommends you eat with a Bowmore dram – it might not be what you think…
Hello David, thank you for being the very first interviewee for our Whisky Wisdom series! Tell us about your passion for whisky and what your role involves at Bowmore?
I manage the day to day running of Bowmore, from the Barley coming in to the oldest Casks we have maturing in our Warehouses, including quality, compliance and selecting the Distillery Exclusive bottlings. I’m a big fan of drinking/collecting whisky, from old style to new style drams.
Why is the Scottish Island of Islay such a hub for whisky distilleries?
The location, climate, peat and most important of all the people. All the whiskies are very good but different, depending on peoples’ tastes, from non-peated to the most heavily peated whiskies in the world.
What is the best food accompaniment with the whiskies you produce at Bowmore?
Bowmore pairs very well with food. For instance, Bowmore 12 year old goes very well with oysters and seafood. Different bottlings go with different foods, we do a few dinners every year where we pair each course with a different style Bowmore, from Bourbon, Sherry or Wine matured. Bowmore is a perfectly balanced Islay whisky, with the ideal balance of peat smoke and fruitiness, with the younger expressions being more ripe fruits, and as the whiskies get older they become more tropical fruits.
Can you share any exciting plans you have at the distillery for 2023?
2023 is going to be a busy year at the Distillery, we look forward to welcoming old and new whisky lovers. We have interesting projects happening in the Production and last but not least we have some exciting new products launching but we can’t talk about these yet so watch this space!
What are your favourite places to visit on Islay on your days off?
I love walking on the beach, The Big Strand, which is 7 miles long and no two days are the same. It’s beautiful in all weathers, especially in the sunshine but it’s nice on a wild day with the high waves crashing in on the rocks and beach. I also enjoy hill climbing on the OA, with its ruggedness of the landscape.
Finally…there are millions of whisky lovers across the globe, but there are also quite a few haters! How do you convert someone who has yet to really enjoy a dram or two?
Whisky tasting is a journey, start off with blends and Lowland Malts, then progress onto the Highlands and then onto Islay Malts, that way people find the flavour profile they enjoy best. Everyone’s tastes are different, to me different whiskies are for different occasions, summer time Bourbon matured are refreshing and in winter time a Sherry matured sitting beside an open fire is nice.
Bowmore Distillery is just a short 10-15min drive from The Machrie and well worth a visit for a distillery tour or a warehouse tasting experience. You can find out more about opening times and book tickets here.
The Machrie’s Islay Twist cocktail menu features a Bowmore Julip – Bowmore 12, mint leaves, demerara sugar and soda. An absolute must-have when you stay with us!
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