By Richard Thomas
Dr. Jim Swan, the noted whisky expert who was best known for his handiwork in advising several new whisky distilleries around the glove, passed away suddenly yesterday in his home in Edinburgh. He was 75.
Swan, who held a PhD in Chemistry and Biological Studies from Heriot-Watt University, began his career with a ten year stint as chief of blending, bottling and maturation at Pentlands Scotch Whisky Research. He then went on to co-found the beer, spirits and wine consultancy RR Tatlock and Tomlinson, before going out on his own in 2002.
In recent years Swan had become the architect of many of the distilleries popping up in places not traditionally associated with whisky-making. He is best known for advising on Taiwan’s Kavalan, certainly an exotic project given the dynamics of maturing whisky in a tropical climate, as well as the Welsh distillery Penderyn. He was also involved with Israel’s Milk & Honey Distillery, Canada’s Victoria Caledonian, the Dublin Distillery Company, and the Cotswolds distillery and The London Distillery Company in England, to say nothing of his work with several Scottish distilleries. As was perhaps best displayed with his work at Kavalan, Swan’s forte was making the most of maturation and pushing a whisky beyond expectations for its years.