It’s at the maturation stage – arguably the most important part in our whisky journey – that the “new make spirit” develops its complex array of flavours and becomes Bowmore single malt Scotch whisky.
Because single malt Scotch whisky is too delicate to mature in new oak casks, we use a variety of used casks, carefully sourced from across the world, to develop the different colours and flavours of our whisky.
Legally, new make spirit only becomes whisky after it has been matured for three years. At Bowmore, we mature our whiskies for a minimum of nine years. During that time, our casks rest patiently, painstakingly stacked in our maturation warehouses, the most famous of which is the No.1 Vaults. It’s in here that each cask gradually absorbs the gentle Islay sea air, as if breathing in and out. This allows the spirit within to interact with the wood and absorb the unique characteristics of the cask, the atmosphere of the No.1 Vaults and of course the Islay itself.
At Bowmore, we most commonly use ex-American Oak Bourbon barrels to create the light golden liquid and sweet vanilla flavours that our Scotch whisky is renowned for. However, explore our warehouse and you’ll also find many ex-Spanish Sherry casks imbuing their own unique character into the spirit. These casks create more dramatic aromas and notes, giving a deep amber colour and flavours of dried fruits.
Casks can also be combined to create a wonderful marriage of flavours. For example, our 15 Year Old is double matured, spending 12 years in ex-Bourbon barrels before spending a final three years in ex-Sherry casks to create its distinctive character. With years of training and generations of experience to draw upon, our Master Blender knows exactly how every cask is maturing at any given time. With just the right level of care and attention, we nurture each and every cask ensuring the whisky within is of the highest quality.