Jim McEwan’s lifelong liaison with whisky began in the small village of Bowmore. On 1 August 1963, at the age of 15, he started his apprenticeship as a cask maker at the famous distillery of the same name, learning the craft from scratch in the years that followed. His great teacher, the legendary cooper, Davy Bell, soon noticed how much his heart beat for whisky, taking Jim under his wing and passing on his knowledge to his protégé.
At the age of only 22, Jim became master of the Bowmore warehouses, subsequently going on to train as a blender in Glasgow. Following his later return to Bowmore, the success story of single malt whisky really took off. There is hardly anyone who has had a greater influence on the world of whisky over the past decades than Jim McEwan. This is one of the reasons why his list of awards is almost endless, including 'Distiller of the Year' and 'Industry Leader of the Year'.
In 2001, he was offered the chance to revive the traditional Bruichladdich distillery, which he said was exactly the right challenge at the right time. With his knowledge, personality and skill as a master distiller, he led Bruichladdich to the top of the world within a very short time. Firmly rooted in tradition, but blessed with a great spirit of innovation, Jim created whiskies (and incidentally a gin, the 'Botanist') that enjoy cult status among connoisseurs and aficionados. Spirits like 'Octomore', the smokiest whisky in the world, and 'Black Art’, set new standards. Jim also opened up new horizons in the field of cask ageing, which became groundbreaking for other distilleries.
Today, Jim McEwan is considered the greatest master distiller of his generation and a whisky legend. Retirement, which he officially took in 2015, is a foreign word to him. Again and again he is a guest at tastings, inspires with his anecdotes and reveals the genesis of the 'water of life' with wit and his Scottish charm.