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Issue 21 - A new dawn for Bowmore (Brian Morrison)

Whisky Magazine Issue 21
February 2002


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A new dawn for Bowmore (Brian Morrison)

After 38 years in whisky, Brian Morrison, managing director of Morrison Bowmore Distillers, is retiring from his executie position to become Joint Chairman. He reminisces with Charles Maclean

Brian Morrison joined the Scotch whisky brokerage firm founded by his father at a crucial juncture in its history. The year before, in 1963, Stanley P. Morrison Ltd had bought Bowmore Distillery on the island of Islay, thereby joining the ranks of Scotch whisky distillers. “At that time Bowmore Distillery was at an extremely low ebb. The quality of the make was inconsistent and its reputation was poor amongst blenders. Production was down to 62,000 gallons in the 1962/63 season and all this was made for one filling customer, Robertson & Baxter. This was because Bunnahabhain was undergoing extensive renovation to increase its own capacity given the rise in sales of the Cutty Sark brand, particularly in the US market.

It was agreed that some capital expenditure in the form of new plant and equipment was deemed necessary and, as a result, in the summer of 1964, a new pair of stills, new mashtun and new washbacks were installed.

My father's only caveat was to ensure the equipment and the processes remained traditional. Fortuitously, within five years our output had been substantially increased. As the quality of the make became consistent, so old blending customers returned to fill Bowmore, thereby establishing the make as a constituent part in many of the leading Scotch whisky brands.”

Stanley Morrison, Brian's father, bought Bowmore almost by accident – certainly on the spur of the moment, but then that was in his nature as an intuitive businessman.

“He was lunchi...

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