A Masterclass with Jim McEwan

This weekend the Whisky Festival in The Hague was held. It is one of the largest whisky festivals in Europe, I believe and this year that resulted in quite some interesting masterclasses. Another benefit of the move to The Hague is that there was an option to book masterclasses without going to the festival, effectively saving me 45 euros.

The Jim McEwan masterclass was the first in a line of three sessions, more or less back-to-back with only a half hour break in between each one.

Jim talked a lot about life on Islay, and what the distillery is doing for the small island community. Not much information I did not already know, but very nice to hear it directly from one of the people involved. The stories went from his pre-school, his coopering days at Bowmore to the new Bruichladdich 10 year old, the Laddie Ten. Everything in between came by as well, so there was a lot of information.

Between all the stories were some whiskies, of course, and we got a very nice impression of the variety of styles that come from Bruichladdich.

Bruichladdich Islay Barley 2004
A very new bottling, that has only been around for a week or two. On the nose there was vanilla, some crisp lemon and malted barley. The taste was rather sharp and crisp, but also a hint of a graininess. The young whisky shows its age but not in a bad way. The finish was quite long, with malted barley, vanilla and some lemoncurd.

The Laddie Ten was next, but I already reviewed that a while ago.

Bruichladdich 17 Rum Cask
The rum cask is obvious from the start. Bruichladdich tends to be fruity on its own, but this one was exaggerated in that aspect. Very smooth and gentle on the nose with quite some sweetness, in a sugary way. Sponge cake with tropical fruit, vanilla and a little marzipan. On the palate it was even sweeter with a little bite to it. Lots of tropical fruit like mango and some wood. The finish is mouth coating with more fruit, caramel, vanilla and more fruit.

Bruichladdich Infinity 3
A newer batch of one of the first Bruichladdichs I ever bought, some 7 years ago. This had a massive nutty aroma, with raisins and again, lots of fruit. Apart from the more classical sherry notes of dried fruit I also got red forest fruits. The palate was sweet and dry with a certain zing to it and the finish showed some bacon and maple syrup.

Octomore 4.1 – The Beast – 167 ppm
This one will get a more thorough review soon, so I’ll skip it here.

Bruichladdich Sherry Classic
And, as a good Bruichladdich oriented tasting ends, it goes with out with a bang called the Highland Toast. One foot on the table, one foot on the chair, screaming some Scottish words which made many people look up from the street below. No tasting notes, but good fun!

All in all a terrific, and very personal masterclass. Lots of information about how things work on Islay and at Bruichladdich. I really enjoyed it.

5 stars

About Sjoerd de Haan-Kramer

I'm very interested in booze, with a focus on whisky. I like to listen to loads of music and play lots of Magic: the Gathering, and board games too. I'm married to Anneke, have two daughters Ot and Cato, a son Moos and a cat called Kikker (which means Frog, in Dutch). I live in Krommenie, The Netherlands.
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2 Responses to A Masterclass with Jim McEwan

  1. For those who missed it!

    On Friday December 9th, whisky society Fulldram will organize, in cooperation with The Nectar, a tasting with the one and only Jim McEwan, on what will probably be his last visit to Belgium (Leuven).

    For those of you who don’t know Jim: he’s an Ileach, born and bred on Islay, and a true legend in today’s whisky world. A former Distillery Manager at Bowmore and current Master Distiller at Bruichladdich, he started in the whiskybusiness as an apprentice cooper at Bowmore distillery when he was only 15, and has an accumulated experience of almost 50 years in the industry. There are few people with a whisky knowledge as impressive as his and there are even fewer people that elaborate on whisky as passionate as he does. A must see!

    The whiskies Jim will be presenting are all true gems:

    · Bruichladdich 5y, 50%, Murray McDavid by Jim Murray, for the 5th anniversary of The Nectar, enhanced in Chateau d’Yquem Sauternes casks, 500 bottles
    · Bruichladdich 18y 1992 Calvados finish, 46%, OB 2011 for The Nectar, 270 bottles
    · Bunnahabhain 33y 1976/2010, 49%, Murray McDavid, Celtic Heartlands, 465 bottles
    · Caol Ila 30y 1980/2010, 51.9%, Murray McDavid, Celtic Heartlands, 1017 bottles
    · Glenlivet 33y 1977/2010, 47.7%, Murray McDavid, Celtic Heartlands, 1358 bottles
    · Bruichladdich 32y 1977/2010 ‘MCMLXXVII’, 47.4%, OB, DNA2, 844 bottles

    More info:
    http://www.fulldram.be/HTML/JimMcEwanENG.html
    http://www.fulldram.be/HTML/JimMcEwanNL.html

    Sláinte!
    http://www.fulldram.be

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