Wednesday, February 01, 2017


Hunter Laing & Co, has today announced that world-renowned whisky distiller Jim McEwan, has come out of retirement and has been appointed as Production Director at its Ardnahoe Distillery, which is currently under construction on Islay.

With over 53 years’ experience under his belt Jim, is playing a pivotal role at the distillery for the Laing family – father Stewart and sons Andrew and Scott. From shaping its design and installing his preferred pieces of distilling equipment, to fine-tuning the production processes and selecting casks, he will influence every step of the whisky-making journey at Ardnahoe, the first distillery to be built on Islay for more than a decade.

Stuart Laing, Jim McEwan, Andrew Laing & Scott Laing

Jim, retired from the whisky industry in July 2015 after a prodigious career that began in 1963, and later saw his name become synonymous with both Islay and the Scotch whisky industry. In his last role, he was Master Distiller at Bruichladdich Distillery for 15 years, where he produced a series of innovative whiskies, including Octomore, the world’s most heavily-peated whisky, as well as revered Islay gin, The Botanist.

Commenting on the news, Jim McEwan, said: “I had intended to ride off into the sunset, but I’ve known Stewart for many years and have always been impressed with Hunter Laing whisky. When the call came in, it really excited me. Then when I visited the distillery site with the Laing family, it absolutely blew me away. It’s an incredible spot up on a hill overlooking the Sound of Islay out to Mull in the north and across to Jura - it has to be one of the most beautiful sites for a distillery anywhere in the world. It felt as though the stars were aligning; the amazing location, my history with Islay, my relationship with the Laing family, their passion for the project, the calibre of architect Iain Hepburn, plus my chance to get involved with the design of the distillery for the first time in my career, all made it feel like it was meant to happen.”

Ardnahoe Distillery, is being built on the north-east coast of Islay and will become the ninth distillery on the island. It expects to start distilling its traditional peated Islay single malt whisky in early 2018.

Posted by Steve Rush