Bowmore's most devoted fan ... lives in Germany

One of the most beautiful places Gavin Ryan Thomson can imagine are the famous warehouses of the Bowmore Distillery. Actually, he loves them so much that he took them to his home now. Just before Christmas, he inaugurated his very own Bowmore No.1 Vaults with a big party. And his guests gazed in wonder.

If you ever had a chance to stop at the Bowmore Stand at the Frankfurt Interwhisky Fair in the past five years or so, you will certainly know Gavin Ryan Thomson. For years, the native of Scotland has lost his heart to the Scottish Islay distillery, and as Malt Ambassador, he also actively helps behind the counter at the Interwhisky.

So how come that a Scot can be found at a whisky fair in Germany? Well, some years ago, something happened that changed Gavin's life forever: he fell madly in love with a beautiful girl from Germany. Following his heart, Gavin moved from his Scottish Homeland to the thriving city of Saarbrücken near the French Borderline. And more recently, he became not only a happy father of two, but also the proud owner of a home. He didn’t have to ponder long what to do with the additional space in the basement: in Germany, a real whisky fan definitely needs his or her own Scottish whisky room.

But while others are content with Chesterfield furniture, wallpaper with checkerboard pattern and old barrels, Gavin has fulfilled a very special dream. In months of hard work, he converted his cellar piece by piece into the famous warehouse of Bowmore. I was lucky enough and got an invitation for his recent inaugural whisky warehouse party.

When Gavin finally opened the doors to his private No 1 Vault, we all were just flabbergasted and marveled at the many details which he has meticulously recreated: the door, the keys, the metal struts on the ceiling, the utensils. Even the black whisky fungus on the walls of the original No.1 Vaults was remodelled with brush and color and looks deceptively real. Only the dripping water on the wall and floor did he leave out.

Gavin discovered his love for Bowmore many years ago, and since then he tirelessly has been posting information about his favorite distillery on Facebook and Twitter. When Cara (Laing) Leggat – back then brand manager for Morrison Bowmore Distillers - became aware of him, she didn’t hesitate to name him "leading online Bowmore Brand Ambassador".

Soon, a VIP tour to Bowmore for Gavin and his brother Paul followed, and the then distillery manager Eddie MacAffer personally led the two men around the distillery. Of course there was also a special dram from the "Maltmen's Casks", enjoyed in the legendary Bowmore No 1 Vaults at the end of the tour.

In 2012, the next step followed, and Gavin became Malt Ambassador for Gruppo Campari, whose portfolio included Bowmore at that time. Since the distribution of Bowmore got transferred to the portfolio of  BeamSuntory Germany recently, now you can find Gavin at trade fairs at the BeamSuntory stand.

With the Bowmore Vaults replica in his basement, Gavin has not only fulfilled his heart's desire, but it also gives him the opportunity to offer whisky tastings in a very special setting. "If people cannot go to Islay, I'll bring Islay to the people," he says.

I’ve known Gavin for quite some time now, and I know that his love of whisky, however, is more than just a fancyful Scottish island romance. Many whisky friends often have a very special story that connects them to this drink - a special holiday, a best friend, an unforgettable party. Gavin also has a very special relationship with whisky.

In fact, he owes his passion for whisky to his father James, with whom he often - and sometimes secretly behind his mother's back - enjoyed one or two or three glasses when he came back from Germany visiting his Scottish home.

And maybe it's the love for his now deceased father, which is at the root of Gavin's passion for the Scottish water of life. Gavin's very first distillery visit took place on April 1, 2011, and this date has a very special meaning for him. It was the third anniverary of his deceased father’s death day.

Normally, Gavin would have wanted to drive to his father's last resting place in Glen Trool that day. But that particular year, he had received an invitation for a VIP tasting at Glengoyne Distillery for this day. All day long, his father was very close to his thoughts, and every dram Gavin had that day, was toasted to his father’s memory. And who knows, maybe back in heaven, his father enjoyed quite a bit of the “Angels Share” on that occasion. Since that day, single malt whisky has always had a strong connection to his beloved and much missed father for Gavin.

Gavin has found his new home in Saarbrücken. But the old home will always live in his heart. And so he tells me at the end of the evening: "You can take a man out of Scotland. But you cannot take Scotland out of a man." As I let my eyes wander through his very own Bowmore No 1 Vaults, I know what he means. Scottish single malt is so much more than just a drink.


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