Jim McEwan unveils Islay single malt range

4th March, 2021 by Nicola Carruthers

The first three single malt whiskies from Jim McEwan’s new Signature Collection will be auctioned next week, including one of the oldest Octomore bottlings to date.

Jim McEwan began his career in the whisky industry in 1963

McEwan, who helped revive Islay distillery Bruichladdich in 2001, has unveiled the Jim McEwan Signature Collection. The range comprises nine editions of three whiskies (27 in total), each containing a Bruichladdich, Port Charlotte and Octomore. Bottles numbered one to 20, and number 88, from editions one and two of the new collection will be auctioned by Whisky Auctioneer from 11 to 15 March 2021.

Winners of bottles 1-20 and 88 will be given first refusal on that same bottle number in successive releases, allowing them to complete a full collection of the same bottle numbers.

McEwan said: “It’s wonderful to see this collection of my final casks bottled and ready to be enjoyed. From starting in the whisky industry aged 15, I can see no better way to mark the ending of a career than to release my own personal collection.

“This collection really speaks for itself in terms of quality, just like each of the whiskies I’ve ever produced.”

The Islay single malt whiskies were distilled under the supervision of McEwan and bottled by Scottish independent bottler Dramfool.

Joe Wilson, head of auction content at Whisky Auctioneer, said: “The Jim McEwan Signature Collection embodies a true industry icon’s passion for the liquid he has spent most of his life creating, as well as the Island he calls home. It’s a pleasure to bring the first edition bottles to our online auction in partnership with Dramfool.

“These are the final casks to be selected by Jim during his time at Bruichladdich and the whiskies he has personally deemed to be amongst his finest creations. We’re sure Islay whisky lovers around the world will be incredibly excited to learn about the collection’s release, and to try these whiskies for themselves.”

 Jim McEwan's whisky range

The first edition bottlings from Jim McEwan’s range have been entirely matured in first-fill wine casks

The first edition bottlings have been entirely matured in first-fill wine casks from a French châteaux, and includes a 13-year-old Octomore matured in a Sauternes barrique.

The 2007 Octomore bottling has an ABV of 57.5% and is limited to 290 bottles. The whisky offers a nose of peat fires, sweet oak, bog myrtle, heather flowers, and wild thyme. The palate is said to provide French oak, peat smoke and sweet barley.

In addition, the sale will include a Bruichladdich 2007, matured in a first-fill Bordeaux cask and aged for 13 years. Bottled at 61.8% ABV, the whisky is limited to 265 bottles. On the nose, the whisky has notes of ripe grapes, sweet oak and hot-washed malt, and a palate ‘ranging from fruity to floral to wine-like citrus’.

The Port Charlotte 2007 is one of 299 bottles and bottled at 60.9% ABV. It was matured in a first-fill Bordeaux cask and aged for 13 years. The expression provides an aroma of peat smoke and coastal wildflowers, and a palate of ripe grapes and ‘coastal marine overture’.

The third edition will also comprise Bruichladdich, Octomore and Port Charlotte bottlings.

Each whisky in the range has been bottled at natural cask strength and colouring, and is non-chill filtered.

Bruichladdich fans will also have the opportunity to bid on an exclusive private tasting experience with McEwan during the auction. All proceeds raised from the experience will be donated to Scotland’s Charity Air Ambulance.

McEwan’s career began at the age of 15 in 1963 as an apprentice cooper at Bowmore distillery. He retired from Bruichladdich in 2005, after 15 years as master distiller, and rejoined the industry in 2017 to help revive Ardnahoe Distillery on Islay.

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