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Bruichladdich’s Jim McEwan to retire

Jim McEwan, production director and master distiller of Bruichladdich Distillery, is to retire this summer after 52 years in the industry.

Jim-McEwan-Simon-Coughlin-Bruichladdich
Jim McEwan (left) with Simon Coughlin, CEO of Bruichladdich

Based at the Islay Scotch whisky distillery since 2000, McEwan has led a progressive production programme that has seen the release of several category-breaking whiskies over the past 15 years.

His creation of Octomore, which remains the world’s peatiest whisky collection, and Islay Barley in 2006 have secured McEwan a reputation for exploring the boundaries of Scotch whisky production through barley variety, provenance, traceability and terroir.

McEwan has also tried his hand at gin, creating The Botanist in 2011 using foraged Islay botanicals.

Simon Coughlin, CEO of Bruichladdich Distillery, descried McEwan as “one of the greatest distillers of his generation”.

“Jim’s achievements and accolades are innumerable,” he said. “Working with Jim these past 15 years has been both exciting and stimulating. His deep understanding of the liquid and his ability to communicate the passion he feels for the spirit, for Islay and its people has been an inspiration to us all.

“We are of course delighted that Jim and his wife Barbara built their house next door, so while we wish them a long and happy retirement, we are able to look forward to his continuing involvement on a less formal basis.”

McEwan leaves some 20 different spirit styles, including a number of experimental whiskies exploring the concept of terroir, in Bruichladdich’s maturation warehouses near Loch Indaal.

He described his time spent with Bruichladdich, which was acquired by French drinks group Rémy Cointreau in 2013, as “an incredible journey”.

“As I take a small step across the road to spend more time with my wife and family, I leave behind a truly great team of 80 men and women who will carry this distillery and its spirit forward.

“I am so proud to play my part in nurturing what was an incredible opportunity, to bring this old distillery back to life and reinvest in Islay and its people.”

McEwan will finish his time at Bruichladdich distillery in July.

Adam Hannett, who has worked closely with McEwan over the past few years, will step up as master distiller in his stead.

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