Malt Whisky and Place


Andrew Jefford, the well known journalist and drinks industry author, is to chair a debate at the University of London Institute of Philosophy that explores the factors influencing the extraordinary diversity of Islay’s whiskies.  Joining Jefford at the Diageo sponsored London Gastronomy Seminar in the Senate Room will be Jim McEwan, Production Director and Head Distiller of Bruichladdich Distillery, Dr Nick Morgan, Head of Whisky Outreach at Diageo, and Georgie Crawford, Operations Manager at Lagavulin Distillery.

Islay’s malt whiskies are unique, and uniquely successful.  Are their diverse characteristics manifestations of the physical attributes of the island – the climate, the water, the barley, and the peat – or are they instead the consequence of centuries of craft and human artifice in the form of the malting, brewing, and distilling processes?

Andrew Jefford, is the author of ‘Peat Smoke and Spirit’, a remarkable Islay history that combines elegant prose with meticulous research and a probing journalism.  Published in 2004, it remains the definitive work documenting this remote Inner Hebridean island and it’s enigmatic whiskies.

Jefford is best left to introduce his illustrious guests in his own words: “ Jim McEwan is one of the best-known of Scotland’s malt whisky distillers; an Ileach born and bred; and a masterful teller of tales. Much of his career was spent at Bowmore, but he is finishing it in fine style at Bruichladdich. He and his colleagues have resuscitated this once-mournful and silent distillery with such imagination and panache that a panting Rémy-Cointreau recently badgered them into surrendering ownership – on Bruichladdich’s terms, I’m assured. Any opportunity to hear Jim speak should be seized.

“Dr Nick Morgan, a former lecturer in modern Scottish History at the University of Glasgow, helps ensure that Diageo communicates what it has to offer (which, in whisky terms, is treasure beyond compare) not merely with class and distinction but with intellectual rigour, too. That makes him unique in the corporate world.

“Georgie Crawford is our second Ileach of the night; she grew up in Port Ellen, where everyone’s washing gets to smell of peat smoke within minutes of being hung out on the line. She began her career at the finest whisky finishing school you could find: the Scotch Malt Whisky Society. A stint at the Whisky Shop in Dufftown led to two years at Talisker – and now she manages Lagavulin, one of the whisky world’s dream jobs.”

The principals in this debate come from whisky companies that have historically offered very different perspectives of their burgeoning industry.  It promises to be a lively, entertaining and informative evening.

Tickets to this public event cost £12.   It will be held at 6:30pm, Wednesday 30th January 2012 at G22/26 Senate House, University of London, South Block, Malet St, WC1.  The nearest Tube stations are Russell Square and Goodge Street.

Further details on the event and how to purchase tickets can be found at

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