David Turner, distillery manager at Bowmore talks to SLTN
Q: What do you make?
A: Bowmore single malt whisky.
Q: Where do you work?
A: Bowmore Distillery – a traditional hand-crafted distillery on the Isle of Islay.
Q: How long have you worked there and how did you start?
A: I started on June 4 1990, straight after finishing school at the age of 16.
Q: Describe the production process.
A: There are four main ingredients in Bowmore: barley, water, yeast and, most importantly, the people. We are one of a handful of Scottish malt distilleries that have our own floor maltings – this means we are in charge of the whole process on-site, from taking the barley in, malting (30% is produced on-site), mashing, distilling and maturing the whisky.
Q: What’s a typical working day like?
A: It varies from day to day, but it tends to centre around keeping a close eye on production, compliance and talking to visitors. I also usually travel a lot, visiting countries like Japan, China, Germany or Sweden to raise brand awareness and host masterclasses.
Q: Please provide brief tasting notes for your products.
A: Islay is well known for producing peaty whiskies. Younger expressions from Bowmore have a distinctive ripe fruit, smoky flavour while older expressions have a tropical fruit and more mellow peaty flavour.
Q: What would you say sets your product apart?
A: Islay is famous for producing peaty whiskies, enabling us at Bowmore to create a very unique flavour.
Q: What one fact should bartenders know about your product?
A: Bowmore matures well in bourbon, sherry and wine casks so we’re able to create whiskies that cater to a wide range of different taste profiles.
Q: What’s your favourite part of the job?
A: Seeing consumers from around the world appreciate and enjoy our whisky.
Q: What’s your favourite way to drink your product?
A: I enjoy drinking older expressions from Bowmore neat. When drinking younger expressions, I always add a splash of water as I find it helps to open up the flavours in the whisky.
Q: What’s your career highlight so far?
A: Being the distillery manager when Black Bowmore 5th Edition was released. My grandfather worked in the warehouses and malt barns so would have laid the cask down to mature back in 1964.
Q: Who do you admire in the industry and why?
A: The last generation of Bowmore craftsmen; they left top quality whisky for us to sell and enjoy – hopefully we leave the next generation with the same, after all we are the caretakers of Bowmore.
Q: How do you relax outside of work?
A: Walking on the beach, golfing, travelling and collecting old and rare bottles of Bowmore.
Q: If you could invite anyone for a drink who would you ask, where would you go and what would you drink?
A: I would invite the Queen. I believe the first and only distillery she ever visited was Bowmore in 1980. We would go to our No.1 Vaults warehouse – the world’s oldest Scotch whisky maturation warehouse, dating back to 1779 – I would host a cask tasting as we have some of the world’s best whiskies maturing in there.