Bowmore and water


A lot of people ask us about whisky flavours, where they come from and about mixing whiskies with other things. One of the most polarizing question we get is, why add water?

So with this in mind Rachel Barrie, Master Blender at Morrison Bowmore Distillers along with Cara Laing, Bowmore Marketing Manager, have been working together to develop the Bowmore Water Program, not to tell you how you should drink our whisky but to give whisky-lovers an option to explore and let them make up their own minds.

“Bowmore is an amazingly complex and harmonious whisky with an enigmatic flavor spectrum,” says Rachel Barrie. “The spirit takes the drinker on a sensory adventure through sweetness and ocean spices with multiple layers of fruit and smoke.  Adding water allows the drinker to unlock Bowmore’s waves of flavor on a journey through its creation.  The taste adventure is just beginning.”  

Rachel , explains that when water is added to whisky, certain physicochemical changes occur in the glass some of which you can see, smell and taste:

  • SEE.Viscimetric whorls develop. These are the eddies and threads created when fluids of different viscosities mix.
  • SMELL.As the alcohol and water combine, energy is released and the temperature of the liquid is initially increased by about 2º C (an exothermic reaction), allowing the liquid to ‘open up’ and release more of the volatile aromas. By reducing the higher alcohol strength, it enables our sense of smell to work better and the aroma paradoxically seems to increase in intensity when first adding water.
  • TASTE.The addition of water and the dropping of the alcohol strength creates a ‘cooling’ effect on the tongue and makes us more receptive to salty and fruity tastes, rather than sweet and spicy. Therefore, we discover different facets of Bowmore’s taste profile than a dram taken neat.

As a starting point, Rachel Barrie has developed tasting notes for Bowmore 12 Years Old, served neat and with 1 part water added to 2 parts whisky. Bowmore 12 Years Old is a complex and rewarding dram that combines Scottish barley, crystal clear water from the Laggan River, rich Islay peat (which both flavors the water and fires the distillery’s kilns) and a 12-year maturation in Bowmore’s legendary No. 1 Vaults.


Bowmore 12YO Neat

Bowmore 12 YO With Water


Honey, toffee, lemon

Fresh citrus and sea-salt, vanilla, almond and orange


A balance of honey, lemon, Islay peat

Peach, pineapple, lemon cream, brine, anise and hints of mint

Over the next few weeks we will be posting some other pieces looking at how much water to add and whether particular types of casks suit adding water over others.

To help support this we have produced a number of Bowmore pieces for bars and whisky shops which you can see below, we will of course being giving all of you a chance to win some of these water goodies along with some Bowmore to try them out with. 


Hand-made and individually numbered, The Tilter is a more fun and quirky dispenser that tilts on an axis and allows a fine flow of water to be dispensed from one side or small droplets from the other.

Walter tilter


Hand-crafted and individually numbered, this copper water dispenser is inspired by the great spirit safe that resides within the Still Room of Bowmore Distillery. The Water Safe will ideally sit in a place of prominence behind the bar and will create the ultimate in water dispensing theater

  Water safe

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