Bowmore was the first of Islay's distilleries to receive a licence, springing fully-formed into official existence in 1779. It is likely that the founder of the distillery, one William Simson, had been distilling in Bowmore since shortly after his arrival in 1766, at a time when Daniel Campbell the Younger (the laird of the island) was expanding the village into the island's capital.
The distillery passed through four owners before 1963, when it was bought by the Morrison family, who sold to the Japanese whisky company Suntory in 1994.
One of the oldest in Scotland, Bowmore Distillery was established in 1779 by local merchant David Simson.
Simson moved to the new village of Bowmore from Killarow around 1766. He was a farmer, a merchant, a postmaster, a sailor and most memorably “ a whisky distiller. His arrival coincided with the expansion of the village after Daniel Campbell The Younger, the Laird of Islay, decided to build Bowmore as the island's capital.
The first recorded mention of the distillery was in 1779, the first on Islay, but it is believed to have started soon after David's arrival in 1766. He was a pioneer - he built the distillery, distilled the whisky and introduced the new famous Islay whisky to the world.
The distillery was later taken over by James Mutter and his family. Mutter, as well as being a farmer and distiller had the unlikely role of Ottoman, Portuguese and Brazilian Vice-Consul in Glasgow.
James Mutter considerably expanded the distillery and as the Bowmore name began to travel, demand grew. The family kept the distillery until 1887 when it was sold to John Sherriff of Campbeltown and became the Bowmore Distillery Company. In 1963 the distillery was acquired by Stanley P. Morrison. Although Morrison substantially rebuilt and renovated much of the distillery he retained the original floor maltings and traditional whisky production methods which are still in use to this day.
The distillery today is owned by Morrison Bowmore Distillers. After having been part-owned by Suntory Ltd of Japan for some years, Morrison Bowmore was purchased outright by Suntory in 1994