Q&A – Jim McEwan of Bruichladdich – Part 2

Jim McEwanFollowing the results of our first Q&A with Olaf Meier of SMWS last week, we have now published below the answers provided by Jim McEwan of Bruichladdich.

There are still a few more to come so look out for part 3 of our Q&A’s which will be published next week.

See Jim’s answers below :

1. Q
When did you first get involved in the Whisky Industry and why…. maybe it was a calling from the angels, or your family were already involved?
I started as an apprentice Cooper on 1st August 1963 at Bowmore Distillery.  My Grandfather was a Maltman at Bowmore and so it was in the blood, but when you are born and raised 200 meters from a distillery on a Distilling island it was every kids dream to one day become a part of the team of men who you meet, men who you have grown up with all of your young life and were kind of heroes to us kids.

2. Q
If you weren’t in this industry where would you like to be and what would you be doing? Remember you are in the real world you still need to be making an income.
I almost joined the Army as a boy soldier for a term of 15 years, I had passed the medical and the entrance exam and then was all set to go, but my mother pleaded with me not to go and so I stayed and here we are today.  I often wonder what that life would have been like but as I look at my family, I realise just how lucky I was not to have gone.  I like discipline and order in my life and that was what attracted me to the Army.

3. Q
So far what has been your proudest moment in the Whisky Industry?
Proud moments, I have been extremely lucky during my 37 years in this business, building my first cask, becoming  a Blender, going back to Bowmore as Distillery Manager, travelling the world for 8 years preaching the gospel of Single Malt but the most poignant moment was when the first whisky ran from the stills in Bruichladdich on the 29th May 2001, that was a real special moment and without doubt the one that still means more to me than any other.

4. Q
Do you have a favourite Distillery, which one and why?
Bowmore has a special place in my heart the whisky is excellent and it’s in good hands with Suntory.  Talisker and Highland park are always outstanding as is Glen Farclas.  Mortlach for me is the classic Speyside absolute perfection as is Glenlivet with Linkwood also right up there and now that Glen Dronach has reopened, it makes me very happy .

Of course above them all for me is Bruichladdich which suffered for so long and never received the recognition it deserved, now at last it is and that gives me and all who work here a great sense of achievement.

5. Q
Where is your favourite bar / pub for drinking your favourite Dram, and who would you choose to be with you?
My favourite bar is the Duffies Bar located on Shore St Bowmore, it has an excellent range of Single Malts, the food is very good there is live Scottish music and there is always some whisky fans from around the world enjoying the chat and of course the whisky.

6. Q
Has there been a Whisky recently that has surprised the hell out of you?
Last week I tasted a Ben Rinnes 1983 from a Bourbon hogshead and it was outstanding with a real peat drift mixing superbly with the mellow oak and the crispness of the malt.  The dryness of the peat was a big surprise, generally at that age the peat has all but faded away but not this one.  Tomorrow I will meet another beauty, that is for me the best part of my working life having the opportunity to sample so many superb malts which makes me the luckiest guy in the world.

Fabulous answers, I must admit Jim’s answers made me very jealous indeed where is that timetable for the Calmac Ferry…

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