Bowmore Legend No.13 ‘The Battle of Gruinard’ (2006)

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The Battle of Gruinard was a famous, ferocious Islay battle. The Clan Maclean of Mull and the Macdonalds of Islay each claimed to be the rightful owner of the Rhinns of Islay, the peninsula that lies across Loch Indaal from the distillery at Bowmore.

Maclean decided to come to Islay to get the land back. Before leaving Mull, Maclean consulted a wise woman. She gave him three warnings: never land in Islay on a Thursday, never drink from Strange Neil’s Well, and never fight on the shores of Loch Gruinard. ‘Heed these,’ she said ‘and you will leave Islay alive. Ignore these, and you will die from one single blow!’

Maclean set off. He had planned to land on a Wednesday, but because of terrible weather was delayed, and had to land on a Thursday. Maclean has disregarded the first warning. On landing, Maclean asked for a drink. He was given what was called ‘the best water in Islay’. Then, he was told it was from Strange Neil’s Well. Too late, he remembered the wise woman’s warning! Nevertheless, Maclean persevered. He chose a battle site and hoisted the Maclean flag. As the men gathered for battle, he was told this was Gruinard – the very place the old woman had warned him against.

Maclean had disregarded the woman’s words of wisdom in every respect. Despite this, Maclean carried on, preparing for battle. Just before the battle began, a small, dark hunch-backed dwarf, called Dubh Sith, came to Maclean to offer his services. Dubh Sith was not only the son of a fairy mother, he was well known as an archer. But Maclean scorned and mocked him. Furious, Dubh Sith sided with Macdonald in the battle, with one aim: to kill Maclean. He hid in a rowan tree waiting for Maclean, and then took careful aim with his bow, and killed Maclean with one single arrow.

Maclean had disregarded the three warnings and was dead; the Macdonalds won the Battle of Gruinard, thus regaining the Rhinns of Islay.

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Bowmore is a distillery that produces scotch whisky on the isle of Islay, an island of the Inner Hebrides. The distillery, which lies on the South Eastern shore of Loch Indaal, is one of the oldest distilleries in Scotland, said to have been established in 1779 by a local merchant, John P. Simpson, before passing into the ownership of the Mutter family. James Mutter, head of the family, also had farming interests and was Vice Consul representing the Ottoman Empire, Portugal, and Brazil through their Glasgow consulates. There are no records that pinpoint the exact date Mutter acquired the distillery from Simpson. Mutter would introduce a number of innovative processes to the distillery during his tenure and even had a small iron steam ship built to import barley and coal from the mainland and to export the whisky to Glasgow.

The distillery was bought from the Mutter family in 1925 by J.B. Sheriff & Co. and remained under their ownership until being purchased by Inverness-based William Grigor & Son, Ltd. in 1950. During the World Wars the Bowmore Distillery halted production, and hosted the RAF Coastal Command for much of World War II, Coastal Command operated flying boats from Loch Indaal on Anti-submarine warfare missions.

Stanley P. Morrison and James Howat formed Stanley P. Morrison Ltd. in 1951, and this company formed Morrison’s Bowmore Distillery, Ltd. in 1963 in order to take over the Bowmore Distillery. Stanley P. Morrison died in 1971, and control of the companies passed to Brian Morrison. The company name has changed slightly, and, following minor restructuring, the distillery is now owned by Morrison Bowmore Distillers Ltd., which is ultimately owned by the Japanese distiller Suntory, following their takeover of Morrison Bowmore Distillers Ltd. during 1994. Suntory had previously been a shareholder in Morrison Bowmore for several years.

Additional information

Weight 1.9 kg





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