Kilchoman Sanaig

Islay’s smallest distillery released this Kilchoman Sanaig which is a composition of 50% bourbon casks and 50% Oloroso sherry, matured for around 4-5 years. It is named after a creek close to the distillery and it will be a permanent member of the core range.


Kilchoman SanaigKilchoman SanaigKilchoman Sanaig
(46%, OB 2015)

Nose: a fairly friendly, balanced expression. The peat smoke is not as offensive as in some other expressions. Instead there is some fruit compote in the fore (pineapple, red apple) with vanilla. Grilled lacquered meat. Toffee. Also a little marshmallow. Soft mineral notes and sea spray in the background. Mouth: peppery attack, quickly joined by some toffee and fruit candy. Sweet lemon. Caramelized apple. Some new-make notes underneath, but well balanced. Some medicinal, peaty notes towards the end. Finish: long, still very sweet but with some brine and drier, ashy hints as it fades.

Maybe a tad youngish, and maybe a little too sweet for some, but other than that, a fine Kilchoman. Around € 55-60.

Score: 85/100

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Milroy’s of Soho “Islay Festival and Springbank 21 Year Old Claret Wood Bottles For Sale!” – Scotch Whisky News




As we have previously mentioned, we had a member of staff up at the Islay Festival this year collecting bottles of whisky for our bar, tastings and shelves. To give everyone the best chance to purchase a bottle of these Feis Ile 2015 expressions, we decided it was best to split them into two releases. Below you will find the second and final release of our haul (including some repeats and some new bottles!). Better still we’ve also managed to get our hands on some Springbank 21 Year Old matured in ex-Bordeaux wine casks. Those who remember the stunning 12 Year Old Claret Wood from a few years back will know just how well Springbank takes to this cask type, so take a peek!

In other news, we will have an allocation of the Ardbeg Perpetuum soon, so keep your eyes on your inbox and our social media channels for more information.


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Laphroaig Cairdeas, Feis Ile 2015, 51.5%

Laphroaig used their smaller pot stills to create an old fashioned style of their famous whisky and bottled it for the 2015 Feis Ile celebrations.  Very sweet smokey on the nose, followed by menthol and burnt pine on the palate, with a long dry smoky finish.

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Bruichladdich High Noon 134, Feis Ile 2015, 48.7% – Signed by Jim McEwan

With just 1881 bottles produced, and a combined age of the whiskies that make up this stellar dram at 134 years, it’s fair to assume this is seriously old Bruichladdich! The bottle has even been signed by Jim McEwan! Gentle sweet honey and some salt on the nose, followed by more salt, then later, honey and cashews on the palate.

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Bowmore Virgin Oak, Feis Ile 2015, 55.7%

A Bowmore from the Feis Ile Festival 2015, taken solely from a virgin oak cask, spicy, peaty – delicious! One of just 1000 bottles produced. Presented in a cloth gift bag. Woody caramel, a little bit earthy on the nose with manuka honey on the palate and a lightly spiced, lingering finish.

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Bunnahabhain 11 Year Old, Rubha A’Mhail, Manzanilla Limited Edition, 57.4%

A small release of only 1200 bottles, this un-chillfiltered cask-strength Bunnahabhain has been matured in Manzanilla sherry casks. The result is a single malt with notes of chocolate eclairs, Maldon sea salt and gentle coastal notes.


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Bunnahabhain 18 Year Old, Moscatel Limited Edition, 51.8%

Matured in moscatel wine casks, this 18 year old Bunnahabhain takes on the honeyed vinous notes of the moscatel, fortified with that strong maritime Islay influence! One of only 250 bottles.


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Springbank 21 Year Old, Claret Wood, 46%

We picked this Springbank up from the distillery itself! A 21 Year Old that has been matured in ex-Bordeaux wine casks, lending the whisky notes of cassis fruits alongside that Springbank oiliness and fresh estery fruit!


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The Whisky Exchange “Ledaig Dusgadh 42 – still life” – Scotch Whisky News


Ledaig Dusgadh 42 – still life 

The now-retired stills at Tobermory
Every so often, a truly historic bottling comes along. One recent release that deserves that accolade is Ledaig Dùsgadh 42 Year Old.

The Isle of Mull’s sole distillery was reopened under the Ledaig name in 1972 after four decades of silence. Today known as Tobermory, the distillery’s former name is reserved for the peated whisky it produces.

500 bottles of Dùsgadh (Gaelic for ‘reawakening’) have been released, comprised of some of the first spirit to run from the then-new stills. It has been aged in a variety of casks, including the final 12 years in an oloroso sherry cask.

After 42 years, the stills were retired last year and this bottling has been released to commemorate their life. Some of the copper from them has been used in the handcrafted packaging, which includes a card entitling the buyer to a bottle of 10 Year Old Déanta (‘done’ in Gaelic), a whisky to be released in 2024 using some of the final spirit from the same stills.

Let’s see what it tastes like:

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Ledaig Dusgadh 42 Year Old, 46.7%

Billy’s Tasting Notes

Nose: Big, rich, elegant and old. Polished oak tables sat on old oak floors, with forest floor notes behind – damp earth, green leaves and bark. Savoury notes dominate, with an umami meatiness taking centre stage, but there’s still a touch of marzipan sweetness with burnt raisins hiding in the wings. As it sits in the glass, some comparatively lighter notes develop, with apple juice, apple sauce and warm leather car seats appearing, along with spiced pastry and red berry compote.
Palate: Sweeter and oilier than expected from the nose, with a thick mouthfeel joined by butter icing, marzipan and candied apple. Spice builds, with clove and cinnamon giving a gentle tingle, before rich raisins and sticky black liquorice take over. From there things go savoury, with wood smoke and the forest notes from the nose balanced by lingering dark chocolate.
Finish: Spice and earthiness, with riverbank loam and green grass accompanied by black pepper. As the greenness hangs around, become sharp, before sweet liquorice builds and then fades, leaving a hint of anise and menthol.
Comment: Dense, with a lot to get through. It’s a dram you can spend a very long time on, and you will be well rewarded if you do. It has layers of flavour, going from the weighty to the very weighty, with a gentle seem of smoke running through the middle. You don’t often get to try a whisky of this old-school style, and it’s always a treat when you do.

I’ve been lucky to try many historic, cult or long-aged whiskies and sometimes they don’t live up to their reputation, but this one does. For an official bottling at more than 40 years of age, it’s reasonably priced, too. A superb tribute to the faithful stills that produced the distillery’s two brands for more than four decades.

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The Whisky Exchange “Octomore 07.1 – smoke and mirrors” – Scotch Whisky News


Octomore 07.1 – smoke and mirrors

If you’ve met Bruichladdich’s Jim McEwan, or even heard tales of him, then you’ll know that he’s not a man to do things by halves. His final Islay Festival tasting at the end of last month packed more than 400 people into the distillery’s warehouse, with crowd-surfing the only way to get out once it had started, and he spent the rest of the day surrounded by crowds wanting to get a photo.

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Jim McEwan’s final toast. For now…

Now that his retirement is less than a month away, the last releases of his tenure as Bruichladdich’s all-round whisky guy are appearing. The whisky in the distillery’s portfolio that most captures Jim’s attitude to whisky making for me is Octomore, and the latest edition feels like a culmination of his plans.

Octomore is Bruichladdich’s super-peaty whisky. While the distillery is famed for its unpeated spirit, Islay’s reputation for smoke led to the reviving of two old names: Port Charlotte, named after a distillery in the next village to Bruichladdich, which closed in 1929; and Octomore, named after the farm that looks over Port Charlotte, and the source of the water Bruichladdich use to dilute their whiskies before bottling. While Port Charlotte whisky is peaty, Octomore ups the smokiness to ridiculous levels – as Jim told me when I spoke to him recently: ‘I decided to make Octomore to shut everyone up for ever’.

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Octomore Farm (Bruichladdich is out of shot to the left…)

Octomore 07.1 is actually a step back in peatiness from the previous releases, with the barley only peated to 208ppm1, a reduction from Octomore 06.3’s 258ppm. However, as super-fruity 06.3 showed, more peat doesn’t necessarily mean more smokiness in your whisky – how you treat the barley after it has malted can produce a wealth of different flavours. 07.1 continues the trend of the 6th edition, going for complexity and depth of flavour rather than just a slap of peat smoke.

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OCTOMORE 07.1, 5 YEARS OLD, 208PPM, 59.5%

Nose: Burning straw, damp grass, freshly crushed grain, liquorice root, sour fruit chews and sweet peat smoke.

Palate: Very sweet, with barley sugar, candy sticks and butter toffee, but also hot – cinnamon, clove and a hint of red chilli. Behind the heat we find the classic Octomore core: maple-glazed ham, baked apple, lime and smoke. The smoke is softer than expected, but covers the whole gamut of flavour: burning logs, peat fires and cold iron stoves.

Finish: Ashy to start, with sweet smoked meat and apple wood lingering.

Comment: Big and smoky on the nose, but much more restrained on the palate, sweetness dominates but is balanced by well-integrated smoke and savoury meatiness.

A fitting send-off for Jim, with the whisky that he created to make a point moving beyond some of the less subtle early releases, and becoming a balanced and complex dram in its own right. Good work, Mr McEwan.

1 ppm: phenol parts per million – a measure of how much peat smoke has infused into the barley during malting. Most malt used by Islay distilleries is in the 25-45ppm range.

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The Whisky Exchange “Talisker vs Borough Market Tasting – Skye Harder” – Scotch Whisky News


Talisker vs Borough Market tasting – Skye Harder


The Talisker tasting line-up

Talisker whisky is fiery, peppery and smoky, but does it work with food? We hosted our first Talisker-themed food-pairing night five years ago at the TWE shop, so a sequel was long overdue. Diageo brand ambassador Colin Dunn was on hosting duties, and began by announcing that of all of the company’s 28 whisky distilleries, Talisker offered the ‘most breadth of flavour’. So, on to the tasting…

The pairings


A few drops of Talisker 57′ North poured on Jersey oysters worked a treat

Talisker 57° North with Jersey oysters
An intriguing start, given the high strength of the whisky, but this turned out to be a great match. Bottled at 57% ABV, the Talisker delivered a fearsome whack of peppery spice, but the saline-rich oyster stood up to it, adding up to a tasty combo of salt and pepper.
Colin Dunn: ‘The DNA of Talisker is red-hot chilli pepper’

Talisker Storm with venison chorizo
Heading into choppier waters now. Storm is a turbo-charged version of Talisker, with more pepper, spice and smoke. And just as well, as the venison chorizo it was served with had a big kick of chilli heat at the finish. The Talisker stood up to the meat, but overall the heat from both sides battled it out rather than complementing each other.
CD: ‘This is spice and pepper in HD!’


My favourite pairing of the night – Talisker 18 Year Old with Stichelton cheese

Talisker 18 Year Old with Stichelton cheese
After all that vim and vigour, this third pairing was a much calmer affair, and many people’s favourite of the night. Talisker 18 Year Old is a thing of beauty, offering a honeyed richness that paired wonderfully with the piquant, creamy Stichelton. The perfect match.
CD: ‘The distillery manager once told me that Talisker doesn’t age – he said it should all be released at eight years old…’

Time for a halftime break, with Talisker Skye served on its own, followed by a Skye Rocket cocktail created by top mixologist Andrea Montague. Skye is the newest Talisker release, and is a gentler expression with less of the peppery heat that typifies the distillery’s output. Combining Talisker 10 Year Old with lemon and apricot, as well as rosemary-and-rocket-infused sugar syrup, what lifted the Skye Rocket was the addition of a rocket-leaf garnish, delivering a peppery hit to balance out the sweetness of the liquid.
CD: ‘Talisker Skye was designed to break people in gently; it’s Talisker with two sugars’


Mixologist Andrea Montague makes her Skye Rocket cocktail with Talisker 10 Year Old

Talisker Port Ruighe with almond and orange cake
We’re pushing the pepper to one side briefly, and trying a Talisker much more on the fruity side. Port Ruighe is finished in ruby port casks, adding a red-berry note and slight jamminess to the whisky. We tried it with a sticky almond and orange cake, and despite my reservations about the red fruits in the Port Ruighe fighting with nutty, citrusy cake, it actually worked well, primarily due to the similar sweetness levels in both.
CD: ‘We’re moving into dessert time…’

Talisker 2002 Distillers Edition with salted caramel praline
Something of a surprise, this one. If you matched a Talisker finished in amoroso (similar to cream sherry) with praline, you’d expect the results to be a sweet, sugary overload. Not a bit of it. What made this pairing was the delicious salinity in both the whisky – juicy and refreshing – and in the salted-caramel praline. Neither were particularly sweet, and the two worked beautifully together.
CD: ‘Talisker in a leather coat on a bed of oaky spice’


Diageo’s Colin Dunn took us on a tour of Talisker

Talisker 30 Year Old – served solo
A fitting way to end. Rather than a long speech, Colin instructed the room to take a mouthful, close our eyes for 30 seconds and contemplate it. Despite a few sneaky peeks, the room did as they were told, with all attention firmly on the whisky. Over those 30 seconds, the whisky was rich, refreshing, lip-smacking and soft, with bitter-orange-marmalade notes blending with the soft, salty peat.
CD: ‘Talisker acoustic. A volcanic whisky from a volcanic island’

Whisky tastings with food always go down well, and this was no exception. Many thanks to Colin Dunn for (another) bravura performance, and also to the top-notch Borough Market team who supplied the delicious pairings and introduced them to guests.

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Clynelish ‘available only at the distillery’

This is a Clynelish expression at cask strength that was only for sale at the distillery. It is believed to be a version of the standard Clynelish 14 Year Old at natural strength. It was a one-off bottling, I don’t think the concept of ‘distillery only’ bottlings has been repeated.



Clynelish 'distillery only' - Cask StrengthClynelish 'distillery only' - Cask StrengthClynelish ‘available only at the distillery’ (57,3%, OB 2008)

Nose: very naked, with lemon, yellow apple, dried grass and a lot of waxy notes. Wax candles, buttery notes. Mineral and sharp, but it becomes more aromatic after a while, with subtle but impressive lime and raspberry notes in the background. Candied ginger. Mouth: oily and creamy, with vanilla custard and apples / apple pie. Pineapple. Then peppery notes, ginger and more wax. Becomes coastal and frankly salty as well, but the candied side never goes away. Finish: long, waxy, on grapefruit skin and salty liquorice.

A really nice dram. The typical elements of the Clynelish 14 are preserved but the whole is more powerful – a little wild even. Originally priced £ 80, and for £ 5 extra you could have it signed by all thirteen distillery managers and operators.

Score: 88/100

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HRH The Prince Charles, Duke of Rothesay, Raises a Toast to the 200th Anniversary of His Favourite Single Malt at Laphroaig’s Islay Distillery – Scotch Whisky News

HRH Prince Charles - Laphroaig

HRH The Prince Charles, Duke of Rothesay, raises a toast to the 200th anniversary of his favourite single malt at Laphroaig’s Islay distillery

His Royal Highness The Prince Charles, Duke of Rothesay, today visited the world famous Laphroaig Distillery on Islay in Scotland’s Inner Hebrides to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the brand. Laphroaig, owned by Beam Suntory, is the only Single Malt Scotch Whisky to bear a Royal Warrant and is known to be a firm favourite of the Prince, who led a toast to the anniversary by raising a dram of limited-edition Laphroaig 15 Year Old Single Malt.

The visit is the third that the Duke has paid to Laphroaig over the last 25 years. The Royal Warrant was bestowed personally when he visited the distillery in 1994, and he returned as part of his 60th birthday celebrations in 2008.

The Duke, who in Scotland uses his official Scottish title the Duke of Rothesay, was hosted by John Campbell, Distillery Manager of Laphroaig, Patrick Loudon McIain Stewart, Lord Lieutenant of Argyle Bute and Mick Ord, Director of Scotch and Irish Whiskies at Beam Suntory. During the visit, he met a number of Laphroaig employees, filled, bunged and signed an ex-bourbon cask and was given a tour of the distillery. He also unveiled a plaque in the Friends of Laphroaig’s field to officially open a cairn (a traditional Scottish monument made of rough stones) commemorating the 200th anniversary. At the end of the tour, the Prince was presented with gifts, including branded ‘Friends of Laphroaig’ wellington boots and bottles of Laphroaig 15 Year Old.

The Duke’s visit also marks the launch of The Laphroaig Legacy Fund, a charitable initiative aimed at supporting Islay’s people, community and environment in 2015. The Legacy Fund has been created to both celebrate the distillery’s past and help to secure the future of its community by supporting local projects and businesses that are promoting the sustainability of Islay living. This year, bottles and casks of 40 Year Old whisky signed during the Prince’s last visit will be auctioned to raise money for the fund. A corporate donation from Beam Suntory and £1 donation from every bottle of Laphroaig 21 Year Old and Cairdeas sold through the Laphroaig Visitor Centre and Online Shop in 2015 will also be put towards the fund. Following an application and selection process, a series of targeted grants will be issued to the successful beneficiaries; these could include community projects, environmental sustainability programmes or initiatives that enhance the skills sets of islanders.

Laphroaig is also celebrating its 200th anniversary with limited edition commemorative releases of Laphroaig 15 Year Old, Laphroaig 32 Year Old, and Laphroaig 21 Year Old.

John Campbell, Distillery Manager of Laphroaig, says, “We are absolutely delighted to welcome the Prince back to Laphroaig to commemorate what is a momentous year for our distillery and brand. We are extremely grateful for his ongoing support over the years, which has helped enable us to preserve the unique heritage of the Scottish whisky industry and to give back to our community. Our 200th anniversary is an opportunity for us to continue to support the region through The Laphroaig Legacy Fund, celebrate our position as an integral part of the local economy, and help ensure that the community of Islay can prosper into the future.”

About The Laphroaig® Legacy Fund

The Laphroaig Legacy Fund will commemorate the 200th anniversary of Laphroaig by providing financial support to local projects or businesses that are promoting the sustainability of Islay living. A corporate donation from Beam Suntory and proceeds from the sale of 200th anniversary products sold through the Laphroaig Visitor Centre and Online Shop, distillery tours and a cask signed by HRH The Prince of Wales, Duke of Rothesay will contribute towards the Legacy. Applications and selections will be made during the summer, and selected recipients will be notified in August 2015.

About Laphroaig® Scotch Whisky

Laphroaig (La-‘froyg) literally means “the beautiful hollow by the broad bay.” Born from the streams and blue peat smoke of Islay, Laphroaig is a single malt Scotch whisky with a distinct taste and story in every bottle. The secret to Laphroaig is that it benefits from the happy circumstances of where it is produced—next to ocean water and on land that gives Laphroaig a unique peaty taste. It is one of only a few distilleries that still uses traditional malting floors and dries and infuses its own malt with the thick blue smoke from old peat-fired kilns. It’s also the only single malt Scotch whisky to bear a Royal Warrant bestowed by HRH The Prince Charles, Duke of Rothesay. Further demonstrating the whisky’s superior quality, Laphroaig 10-Year-Old Cask Strength and Laphroaig Quarter Cask each received a Gold Medal at the 2014 International Review of Spirits while Laphroaig 10-Year-Old won a Gold Medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition.

About Beam Suntory Inc.

As the world’s third largest premium spirits company, Beam Suntory is Crafting the Spirits Brands that Stir the World.  Consumers from all corners of the globe call for the company’s brands, including the iconic Jim Beam and Maker’s Mark bourbon brands and Suntory whisky Kakubin, as well as world renowned premium brands including Knob Creek bourbon, Yamazaki, Hakushu and Hibiki Japanese whiskies, Teacher’s, Laphroaig, and Bowmore Scotch whiskies, Canadian Club whisky, Courvoisier cognac, Sauza tequila, Pinnacle vodka, and Midori liqueur.

Beam Suntory was created in 2014 by combining the world leader in bourbon and the pioneer in Japanese whisky to form a new company with a deep heritage, passion for quality, innovative spirit and commitment to Growing for Good.  Headquartered in Deerfield, Illinois, Beam Suntory is a subsidiary of Suntory Holdings Limited of Japan.  For more information on Beam Suntory, its brands, and its commitment to social responsibility, please visit and

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Scotch Malt Whisky Society “ISLAY ADVENTURES & ONLINE EXCLUSIVES” – Scotch Whisky News

AA SMWS June 2015 Ice Cream


As part of our Islay celebrations, we’re releasing a charismatic new bottling, 3.245 Big personality (no pussy-cat), to go with Unfiltered Magazine’s newly published short film The Homecoming, in which the team brings our Feis Ile 2015 bottling (3.243) home – touring 8 distilleries, before hitting our Islay House garden party. Watch it here

Plus – enjoy the benefits of being an email subscriber with the first look at our July previews and online exclusive bottlings. Bring your bottle home before they all sail over the horizon…



3.245 Big personality (no  pussy-cat) £62.40

A deep, rich nose – tarry ropes, wetsuits, sneakers, leather, Germolene, syrup of figs, Branston pickle, seafood barbeque embers and struck match. The palate has a big personality – salty, smoky and sweet – burnt raisins, bonfire ash, treacle, sherry, anchovies and biltong.
– Refill ex-sherry butt
– 17 years old



Old dignified

7.114 Ode to Grown up George £110.00

George tied the knot. Hearts broke. Red lipstick, damson jam and ripe pineapple. Controlled and classy, reclining on a Chesterfield with exotic figs and habanero jam. Mellifluous, heather honey tongued. This whisky previously inhabited an ex-bourbon hogshead.
– Second fill ex-port barrique
– 25 years old
12 bottles released for preview*


Lightly peated

66.68 Bon Appétit £45.90

Smoky bacon crisps, pork cracklings and streaky bacon next to new pine and lavender on the nose neat, whilst in the taste a bacon butty with maple syrup. Water released minty /salty aromas and ‘La galette des rois’ on the palate.
– Refill ex-bourbon barrel
– 11 years old
20 bottles released for preview*


Expect your next update email on Friday 3 July

Browse New Outturn
Browse All Bottlings

*We release a small number of bottles as a preview – it’s one of the perks of being an email subscriber! But don’t worry if you don’t get one tonight; the majority of bottles are released with the rest of the Outturn.

The Scotch Malt Whisky Society, The Vaults, 87 Giles Street, Leith EH6 6BZ Contact: or call 0131 555 2929 (Mon-Fri 9am-4.45pm). Visit the Society at here for membership information

This is your chance to join and to take advantage of their great offers!

Spot the SMWS bottles in this amusing You Tube video

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The Whisky Exchange “Jim McEwan – a well-earned retirement” – Scotch Whisky News


Jim McEwan, production director at Bruichladdich (until 23 July 2015, at least)

The opening weekend of the Islay Festival isn’t normally a time for sadness, but yesterday saw the end of an era: Jim McEwan hosted his final warehouse tasting at Bruichladdich. While we don’t expect Jim to disappear when he retires in July, it was his final tasting while still the distillery’s production director. However, he treated the occasion as he always does: as a time for celebration. Whisky was drunk, toasts were toasted and the crowd helped give him a roaring send-off. It’s all a long way from where he started his whisky journey, back in 1964.

Islay-born, at 15 years of age he was ‘just a skinny little guy’ and was taken on as an apprentice cooper at Bowmore. ‘I wanted to be one of those tough guys, and smoke a pipe and drink whisky,’ he told me at a recent tasting at The Whisky Exchange Shop. ‘I never smoked a pipe, but I acquired a taste for whisky.’ In those days there were more than 800 coopers in Scotland, and it was a lucrative business, ‘paid by result’, with apprentices doing the hard jobs that helped the journeymen make their bonuses.

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Things haven’t changed too much in the Bowmore warehouses since Jim’s days as cellar master

Jim graduated to being a journeyman and later became cellar master at Bowmore, taking over from his mentor, David Bell – the oldest working cooper in Scotland, who retired aged 70 years old. ‘I’ll never forget the day,’ Jim recalled. ‘He came up to me with the keys in his pocket for all the warehouses, [put them in my hand] and said, “It’s your turn now, Jim.”‘

At 28 he moved to Glasgow to train as a blender for Morrison Bowmore, whose business was booming. He nosed up to a 1,000 casks a week, helping to build blended whiskies designed by the master blenders to be shipped around the world. He worked his way up to chief blender at Morrison Bowmore, but after eight years on the mainland he got the opportunity to return home.

‘I got the call to go back to Bowmore and take over as distillery manager. I couldn’t believe it. I never thought this would happen in my lifetime. A boy from Bowmore, who started work with a hole in his trousers; a skinny little runt who’s returned home. I said yes immediately.’

Japanese drinks giant Suntory had just taken over, and with McEwan at the helm they invested heavily, creating the Bowmore we know today. Along with refurbishing the distillery, they made sure that they spent wisely on Jim’s passion: casks. ‘[Suntory] were very generous about buying casks. No holds barred. If you wanted sherry butts, you got sherry butts; if you wanted port pipes, you got port pipes.’

However, Jim was not to stay on the island, and became a roving ambassador for Bowmore. He travelled the world, teaching drinkers about whisky and ‘bringing Islay malt to people who had no idea what Islay malt was’. However, things were happening on the opposite side of Loch Indaal to Bowmore, and the next step of Jim McEwan’s career called.


Bruichladdich distillery – the next stage of Jim McEwan’s career

‘At this stage I’d been 38 years at Bowmore and I loved working for Suntory, but it was a killer on the road. So I got this phone call from Gordon [Wright, of independent bottler Murray McDavid], and he said, “There’s some of us getting together and we’re going to buy Bruichladdich. Would you be interested?” Immediately my heart said yes.’

The purchase went through, and the revitalisation of Bruichladdich begun. However, it wasn’t all plain sailing, as Jim recalls: ‘I remember walking through the gates on 6 January 2001. I couldn’t believe it: it was a bombsite. Derelict. Ghosts everywhere.’ However, the local community were behind them, and work began. Within a few months the distillery was on its way to being restored.

‘There was something about the guys, their attitude and their passion that said ‘you can move a mountain’. And we did. On 26 May that year, at 7.29 in the morning the first new spirit ran down the line. The rest of the distillery was a state, but we were making whisky again.’

One thing that makes Bruichladdich stand out from almost all other distilleries on Islay, is the lack of peat in their whisky. With six out of the island’s eight distillers producing heavily peated spirit, they picked up criticism for being against the regional style, which Jim wasn’t standing for: ‘I was tired of people saying that Bruichladdich wasn’t a true Islay as it wasn’t peated. From 1881 to 1960 it was peated. I resurrected a peated malt and called it Port Charlotte to stop those people. Then I decided to make Octomore to shut everyone up for ever.’


He’s still obsessed with casks…

Jim McEwan retires on 23 July 2015, exactly 52 years since he started as a cooper’s apprentice. With their whisky range in place and new owners Rémy Martin allowing Bruichladdich to be ‘unafraid of the bankers’, as Jim puts it, they are stronger than ever and ready to start a McEwan-less existence. That said, we doubt they’ll get rid of him completely – he does live next door.


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Scotch Malt Whisky Society of America “Late June Outturn” – Scotch Whisky News


Late June Outturn Offerings


Cask No. 76.119                             $155

‘On Christmas day in the morning!’

Speyside, Spey

The panel were whisked away to the excitement of Christmas morning as a child. Aromatic spiced orange mingled with eggnogsugar puffs and milky hot chocolate sprinkled with nutmeg. Still in their pyjamas, the panel dipped into their stockings to find cranberry, pomegranate and red currants with Hubba Bubba gum. Water opened glugg infused with orange and mint, cola bottles. Fragrant lavender, saffron and lemon thyme wafted from the glass. Fresh wood from a homemade dolls house gave a grippy quality to the reduced taste which tingled with ras el hanout spiciness. Lingering flavours of pomander completed the festivities.

Drinking tip: Well now…Christmas day!

Colour: Dirty copper

Cask: Refill butt

Age: 18 years

Date distilled: July 1995

Alcohol: 56.7%

USA allocation: 180 bottles

Flavour profile: Deep, rich dried fruits 

 SMWS Green Logo

Cask No. 7.103                       $220    

After church

Speyside, Lossie

A venerable library – polished wood, candles, hessian tapestry – with a fruity complex behind (over-ripe pears, bananas and pineapple). Then an empty fireplace (cleaned out for the summer) or dusty store, with dried marjoram. The waxy notes increase with water (church candles, on brass candlesticks), then tablet, vanilla fudge, linseed oil and vegetable oil, ‘spice drawer’ and dried orange pomander. The taste, straight, is sweet overall, with traces of scorched newspaper in the finish, and a hint of cinnamon toast mid-palate. Warming, with nutmeg and sandalwood in the aftertaste. With water the taste is more waxy; rich and sweet, with dried orange peel.

Drinking tip: With a good film on Sunday afternoon

Colour: Polished mahogany

Cask: Refill hogshead

Age: 29 years

Date distilled: October 1984

Alcohol: 51.6%

USA allocation: 54 bottles

Flavour profile: Sweet, fruity mellow 

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Cask No. 9.100                       $125        

Coffee and cigarettes

Speyside, Spey

We were enticed in with flapjacks and macaroons, coffee with cream and deep vanilla notes. It was a Parisian cafe serving creamy panna cotta and rich espresso martini. There was sandalwood oil and hints of coconut and sweet tobacco. The palate had butterscotch, burnt coffee and an ashy feel, then Murray Mints and a woody finish. The diluted nose had toasted crumpets and offered menthol cigarettes with an Americano and dark chocolate. There was a Café Crème tin on a pinewood table and some light floral notes. Our taste buds tingled with paprika, ginger and liquorice root, then cigarillos with strong coffee and a cinnamon aftertaste.

Drinking tip: While watching the film or having your own discussion

Colour: Olive oil

Cask: First-fill barrel

Age: 12 years

Date distilled: August 2002

Alcohol: 59.9%

USA allocation: 90 bottles

Flavour profile: Spicy sweet

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Cask No. 4.191                               $180

A Romp in the Heather

Highland, Island

A first impression of peach and rose Turkish delight. And then a delicious romp of carrot cake, golden syrup and buttered crumpet. Warm cedar wood polished with linseed oil. Distant burning heather moors. The mouthfeel is chunky and meaty with soy and black pepper. Hessian bags full of ash. Salted caramel, butterscotch and dark chocolate. Water released mint and crispy seaweed. Waxed jackets and new Wellington boots. The finale is ash smoked sausage and menthol cigarettes. The panel agreed that it was like been grabbed up and rolled around in lavender, damp moss and heather. What a delight!

Drinking tip: Choose your partner carefully for this one

Colour: Buttercup

Cask: Refill hogshead

Age: 22 years

Date distilled: May 1991

Alcohol: 54.2%

USA allocation: 120 bottles

Flavour profile: Lightly peated 

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Cask No. 53.210                     $190

Fantastic stuff


This nose had  a little bit of everything one might expect – peat smoke, tea chests, tobacco, pine resin, sea breezes, bandages, puff candy, peanut brittle and smoked salmon, to name just a few. The palate was a delight – a good whack of smoke and toffee apple sweetness – but nicely complicated by aniseed, liquorice, Brazil nuts, sesame oil, soy sauce, five-spice powder, salt and vinegar crisps and smouldering sawdust. The reduced nose was softer and sweeter, with caramel, treacle, old tawny port and pork crackling, while the palate found some mint and ash in the finish. Fantastic stuff from Islay’s biggest distillery.

Drinking tip: Could accompany a stir-fry or aromatic duck – or an evening bonfire as the stars appear.

Colour: Toasted barley gold

Cask: Refill hogshead

Age: 24 years

Date distilled: December 1989

Alcohol: 53.3%

USA allocation: 60 bottles

Flavour profile: Peated

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