I still regret the opportunity I had last year to take a photo of Jim McEwan doing the ironing for his wife Barbara, just after he was retired from Bruichladdich Distillery. It would have been a rather unique photo as Jim's retirement was of a very short nature. Jim is apparently not the man to sit still and do nothing as it didn't take him very long to accept a dream job with Hunter Laing & Co, at Ardnahoe Distillery. And this might well be Jim's most special job he has ever done as this is in fact the first time that he will help building a whisky distillery on Islay from the ground up. He will be involved in any decisions taken on the construction of the distillery as well as being responsible for the production of the first spirit and the selection of the casks. A unique opportunity, something most of us would leave retirement for.
Hunter Laing & Co, the Glasgow-based company – run by Andrew and Scott Laing, along with their father, Stewart – expects Ardnahoe to start production in early 2018. Construction works on the new distillery have started late last year. Ardnahoe distillery will be built in two phases. The first will see the establishment of distilling operations, warehousing and a visitor centre comprising of a café, tasting room and shop. The second will see an expansion of distilling operations and further warehousing. Continue reading.....
In a press release issued by Hunter Laing & Co, the company who are building their first distillery, Jim 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 and 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.”
And there is some personal good news to report about Ardnahoe as well. This morning I had a meeting with Jim about an Islay video production we are going to make together, and during that meeting he gave me permission to take photo's of all the construction stages of the new Ardnahoe distillery. How cool is that? This means the you, as reader of our Islay Blog, can follow the construction from up close and I'll make sure to post as much information and photos as possible!