Legendary Islay distiller auctions last casks

Legendary Islay distiller Jim McEwan

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A legendary master whisky distiller from Islay has released his final collection of single malts from his personal reserves.

Jim McEwan, 72, who guided the renaissance of Bruichladdich distillery on Islay, has spent more than half-a-century in the quest to produce the perfect dram.

The first two edition bottlings of a nine-edition collection are being sold online by the Perth-based Whisky Auctioneer.

The auction went live on March 11 at https://whiskyauctioneer.com/ and closed on Monday March 15.

Within 24 hours, interest came in thick and fast with bids for the first bottle alone reaching £2,000.

Each edition contains a single cask Bruichladdich, Port Charlotte and Octomore expression distilled under Jim’s watch at Bruichladdich.

Octomore, Bruichladdich and Port Charlotte by James Robertson.

The first edition bottling has been matured in first-fill wine casks from the finest French Châteaux and the second edition has been bourbon cask matured.

They have been bottled by Scottish independent bottlers Dramfool.

Also proving popular is an exclusive private tasting experience with the man himself. By Friday, bids for the masterclass for up to 12 people had reached £700.

Jim is donating 100 per cent of the proceeds of that lot to Scotland’s Charity Air Ambulance for providing life-saving support to Islay.

Jim said: ‘It’s wonderful to see this collection of my final casks bottled and ready to be enjoyed.

‘I can see no better way to mark the ending of a career than to release my own personal collection.

‘As my last casks come to market and I look back on 58 years of making whisky, it still
excites me to see what is happening.

‘Single Malt whisky is the blood of Scotland and it’s our job to look after it, cherish it and do a good job with it.’

He began his career in 1963, aged 15, as an apprentice cooper at Bowmore Distillery where he trained and refined his malt mastery for 38 years.

In 2001, he helped reawaken Bruichladdich distillery where he was Master Distiller for 15 years before retiring in 2015.

He was recently tempted out of retirement to help revive Ardnahoe Distillery, also on his beloved Islay.

Port Charlotte by Ben Shakespeare.

Bruichladdich Distillery, Islay, by Ben Shakespeare.

Joe Wilson, of online auction house Whisky Auctioneer, said: ‘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 added: ‘This collection really speaks for itself in terms of quality, just like each of the whiskies I’ve ever produced.

Whisky Auctioneer enjoyed a record year in 2020. From January it hosted 17 online auctions totalling a hammer price of almost £30 million.