We had bought tickets to Jim McEwan's masterclass. I can be very short about it. It was
Jim is a first class entertainer and has - with his 50 years of whisky experience, many stories to tell of which at least 90 percent is either completely made up or completely true, depending on how many drams have gone into the storyteller or the listener.
It was suggested by many that Jim McEwan was giving his very last masterclass at this years' Feis Ile, and that he would retire after working 50 years in the whisky-industry. About a week before Feis Ile however, news 'leaked' that he was asked by Rémi Cointreau to stay on for at least another three years, something he proudly confirmed to the (300+) crowd; he would like to stay on indefinite, instead of living in an old peoples' home, staring at the geraniums. Nonetheless he introduced everyone to his colleagues and successors: master distiller Allan Logan, and master blender Adam Hannet.
To celebrate the 50th birthday of Jim's career, the people of Bruichladdich and Bowmore - where Jim started 50 years ago, had put together a bottle of blended malt of the two distilleries, containing 38 years of Bowmore and 12 years of Bruichladdich, presented to him by his lifetime friend Eddie MacAffer, distillery manager at Bowmore.
.nosing and tasting
First off was the Islay Barley 2006-2012. Jim's own pride and joy, 100% Islay produced from barley to bottling, bourbon cask matured, non chill-filtered and natural colour at 46% abv. On the nose I immediately got fresh apples, citrus fruits, flowers - especially heather and violets and bees wax and honey. More fruits and citrus on the palate along with a good hint of butterscotch. Finishing with a medium long wow, there is a heavy, quite young and spirity note, accompanied by a white pepper spice and various fruits.
Jim likes to think of this dram as one of his daughters whereas the Port Charlottes and Octomores are seen as sons. For me, this is a bottle to get hold of some day.
|.a picture of number three...|
|.the laddie twenty two|
Fourth was the Feis Ile 2013 bottling. All together it holds whiskies of 100 years of age. Nosing starts with oak, several fresh fruits and sweet marshmallows. The sweet fruit continues on the palate where yellow fruits take the lead over the citrus. The finish is mediumlong and quite lovely.
Proper tasting notes will follow soon, because during the intermezzo that accompanied this dram, I had a short intermezzo of a different kind myself. We brought home bottle #548 of 700.
Fifth in line was Jim's Port Charlotte, exclusively matured in Mouton Rothschild wine casks. It is distilled in 2001 and will never be released since it is a cask that belongs to Jim McEwan and his family to keep for 21 years.
At 61.2% abv (!), the nose has obviously some peat, smoke, bacon, gentle fresh fruits, and surprisingly doesn't give you any hint that is actually has this high on alcohol. According to Jim, this is due to the slow distillation that is practised at Bruichladdich. On the dry palate there is smoked bacon, firm sweet breakfast cereals and raisins, lots of raisins. Finishing sweet, firm and dry again, this also goes on and on.
I would love to get a bottle of this, but other then being adopted by Jim's family I recon there is little to no chance to obtain one. Best I could do was get a full glass out of the building where I enjoyed it for more than an hour or so while browsing the shop, during a quick lunch and getting an impression of the start of the festival at the Bruichladdich yard.
|.one should always|
have one of these
All in all I thought the event was a great succes. Jim McEwan like to entertain his audience, and with the fifty years of experience in the whisky business, he has gathered a lot of anecdotes, stories, general information and a vaste amount of knowledge that he likes to share with whomever likes to listen. The chosen whiskies were greatly balanced over the morning, starting with a great, smooth sweetie, and technically ending with the fifth, that was a wonderful, high abv product of the man himself.
To me, this masterclass was just that; a masterclass.
My general conclusion on Bruichladdich is that I am becoming a fan of the brand, the distillery, the people working there, and above all their products. Up to this date I cannot recall a Bruichladdich, Port Charlotte or Octomore whisky that I did not like. With their many products, there must be at least one that does not fit my taste.
Now there is a challenge... accepted.