Jim McEwan, our former master distiller, is coming out of retirement to help establish Islay’s newest distillery at Ardnahoe.
The new facility will be built in a spectacular location on the east coast of Islay to the north of Port Askaig. When it is eventually built it will sit between Bunnahabhain and Caol Ila distilleries overlooking the Sound of Islay and the Paps of Jura. Jim says of the site: “‘It absolutely blew me away. It’s an incredible spot up on a hill overlooking the Sound of Islay out to Mull in the north and across to Jura – it has to be one of the most beautiful sites for a distillery anywhere in the world.”
Jim left Bruichladdich in July 2015 after 15 years as our production director. He will enjoy the same title at Ardnahoe which is being developed by Hunter Laing & Co., a family-run independent whisky bottler.
The announcement was made public earlier today in a news article carried by Scotchwhisky.com The website says: “The distillery is not due to open until summer 2018, (and Jim) has been working closely with Hunter Laing’s managing director Stewart Laing and architect Iain Hepburn to design Ardnahoe’s layout and functionality.”
Islay’s ninth distillery will create a number of different whiskies in the ‘classic Islay style’, and will ‘stay true to the island’s heritage’ with a heavily peated malt.
Jim gave editor Becky Paskin some insight into his plans for the new venture saying: ‘We’ll be distilling slowly, by hand and without computers. We want to go back to maturing good whisky in good American Bourbon barrels for that traditional Islay flavour. I’ve done weird and wonderful casks in the past, but I’ll keep it simple and rely on the art of distillation and quality of oak for a unique, authentic taste.’
Jim intends to pass on his knowledge to Stewart Laing’s sons Andrew and Scott before his consultancy comes to an end.
Andrew said: ‘The three of us are hugely impressed with the whiskies [Jim has] produced in the past and can sleep easy knowing that he is in ultimate charge of whisky-making at Ardnahoe.’
Everyone here at Bruichladdich wishes Jim and the team at Ardnahoe all the very best for the future with the new project which is sure to further elevate the reputation of Islay in the minds of whisky enthusiasts around the world.