Anthony Gismondi on Wine
Tuesday, September 1 2015

People : James McEwan and Bruichladdich

By: Jim Tobler
Terroir and Single Malt

Jimmy McEwan began his career at the illustrious Bowmore Distillery on the island of Islay, the southwesternmost part of Scotland, in 1963.

He was an apprentice cooper.  An aptitude for all things single malt whisky was one thing; a gift for communicating the sometimes elusive magic of a special dram  was another, and thus Mr. McEwan became a globetrotting ambassador for not just Bowmore, and Islay, but, really, the entire industry. 

McEwan accepted an opportunity to bring a neighbouring distillery, the Bruichladdich {brook laddie} out of mothballs, in 2000. For him, it was an opportunity to put away the suitcases and embrace the daily realities of distillery life once again, and it was an easy decision to take.  Bruichladdich has since charted a steady, sometimes innovative, path to prominence. They use the word “terroir” often, and they mean it. The Islay Barley Rockside Farm 2007, for example is made strictly from grains grown for them in the Minister’s field at Rockside Farm.

The Classic Laddie, made from 100 per cent Scottish Barley, aged in American oak at Lochindaal,  is McEwan’s definitive statement, a whisky of immense charm, floral and mild mint notes giving way to dried fruits, a hint of brown sugar, and a finish that will carry until next week. Mr. McEwan retires this year, but there is every likelihood he has a few cases of this whisky safely tucked away.

Top photo: James McEwan on left, CEO Simon Coughlin on right



Written By: Jim Tobler
Jim Tobler
Jim Tobler

Jim Tobler is Editor of MONTECRISTO Magazine.  He has previously been Editor at NUVO, at Kiwi Collection, and Executive Editor of dearly departed Wine Access. Jim has co-written, with the chefs, three cookbooks: West, Blue Water Cafe, and Araxi. He has written multiple articles about wine, food, travel, and music, for, among others, CHQM Radio, The Globe and Mail, and FOX News.