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Issue 33 - A dram online

Whisky Magazine Issue 33
September 2003


This article is 14 years old and some information provided may be time sensitive. Please check all details of events, tours, opening times and other information before travelling or making arrangements.

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A dram online

Bruichladdich's Jim McEwan is set to bring his whisky tasting sessions into your home. Mike Gerrard reports

Islay is the kind of island where you see otters washing themselves just offshore in the bays at the end of the day. Near Port Ellen is what the Ileachs know as Seal Bay, and as the sun goes down, a young girl stands playing her violin because she says it charms the seals out of the water.

There are deer on the island too, and ancient Celtic crosses. Oh yes, and a solitary cyber café is a nod to the modern world.

Islay is also home to seven distilleries, all now owned by international corporations, with one exception: Bruichladdich.

It is also the only distillery where no computers are used in the process, mainly because it is still using the original splendid equipment dating from 1881.

But despite that, Bruichladdich is one technological step ahead of its rivals. Having been the first distillery to put live webcams onto its website, in August it will become the first to offer what must be the dram-lover's dream: online whisky tasting. It's the brainchild of master distiller Jim
McEwan, an Islay man who in August also celebrates 40 years in the whisky business.

“What Jim doesn't know about whisky you can write on the back of a postage stamp,” one of his island rivals admitted. Now his lifelong expertise will be available live online to anyone with internet access, thanks to the monthly sessions that are due to commence in August.

“It's a very practical thing for us,” Jim tells me.

“We get far more invitations to do tasting sessions and presentations than we...

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