In 1779, local merchant David Simpson established Bowmore Distillery, one of the oldest distilleries on Islay.

Simpson moved to the new village of Bowmore from Killarow in 1766. He arrived into Bowmore at the same times as the village was expanding into what was to become the island's capital. While he was a farmer, a merchant, a postmaster and a sailor, his most memorable profession was as a whisky distiller.

The first distillery on Islay to receive a license, Bowmore was officially founded in 1779. It is likely, however, that Simpson had been distilling in Bowmore since shortly after his arrival on Islay. The distillery was later taken over by James Mutter, who was a farmer and distiller, as well as Ottoman, Portuguese and Brazillian Vice-Consul in Glasgow.