Tag Archives: whisky

Bowmore distillery

On our last trip to Scotland, a visit to a Scotch whisky distillery was a must. But, which distillery should we visit? Location was not a problem, we would travel throughout the whole of Scotland, thus, we decided to cross some inputs to make our decision.

Making a good use of the Wikipedia we found out that only a few distilleries in the whole of Scotland were producing their own malt:  Balvenie, Kilchoman, Highland Park, Glen Ord, Glenfiddich, Bowmore, Laphroaig, Springbank, and Tamdhu. Fewer of them opened their doors to visits. Three of those were located in Islay island, which Luca had already suggested. We then decided to target the oldest one of them: Bowmore, founded in 1779.

The visit was superb, even if due to lack of rain in the previous weeks they had stopped malting (for which they need tons of water coming from the local river). We had the chance of visiting all corners of their facilities: malting barns, we entered into the kiln (like an oven where they burned the peat which smoke provides the characteristic peatty flavour of Islay whisky),  the mash tun, the tun room where the wash back is made (so far the process is practically the same as for producing beer!), the stillhouse and the warehouse, where there were cask from up to 1957!

One curiosity which I enjoyed: whisky casks normally have been used beforehand either for producing bourbon in the USA (where in some states the law allows only to use them once for bourbon production – the cask selling for ~100$ each) or for producing sherry in the South of Spain (these were in higher demand as they may have been used more times and give more flavours and aroma to the whisky – the cask selling for 500-1,000$ each). You can also take a short visit to the distillery in their website.

We immediately became fans of Bowmore, buying some small bottles of 12, 15 and 18 years old single malts, some glasses, coasters, a flask, beer made out of malt and casks from Bowmore, “peatty” honey…

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Note: I must admit that in our becoming fans of Bowmore, or in general Islay whisky, we may have been biased as Luca’s surname, “Veen”, means in Dutch “peat”.


Filed under Travelling

Scotch whisky

Yesterday I was reading an article in The Economist about the whisky industry, and I found a thread to follow: Spain being the third largest export market of Scotch whisky!

After having travelled through different European countries and seeing the drinking habits in each place I could almost predict that more whisky was consumed here than in other European countries.

I searched for the source of these data, the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA), which published a release in April 15th on the export data from 2009.

Despite the global crisis, whisky exports continued to rise both in terms of revenues and bottles. But let’s dig into the data.

Looking first at the numbers of bottles exported we see that the leading country is France with almost 180 million 70cl bottles, followed by USA and Spain (with 87 million bottles). The first 10 countries account for 60% of the export market.

Because France and USA are more populated than Spain, I was interested in comparing the ratio number of bottles exported by inhabitant… and now the leading country was by far Singapore, with over 10 bottles per inhabitant per year… either there is something we miss in the picture or there is very heavy scotch drinking going on there (taking into account that not everyone drinks whisky, less people imported scotch). Among those 10 main markets Spain again came in third with an average of 1.9 bottles per inhabitant, though we should keep in mind that this number only reflects the bottles exported from Scotland; not whisky consumption in the country (Irish, US or Spanish whisky is not counted here).

Scotch whisky exports, by number of bottles.

There is another statistic given in the same release: revenues. What I wanted to know with this was the export price per bottle.  Not all top ten countries by number of bottles were among the top ten by revenues, but with those which were I did the calculation. The average price resulted 2.9 sterling pounds, around 3.37 €… so the other ~9€ up to the 12€ price you see in the shop are costs related to transportation, retail shops, etc.

Scotch whisky exports, by revenues and bottle price.

In the SWA site you may find very useful information such as distilleries to be visited in Scotland, etc.


Filed under Miscellanea