Whisky adviser to be honoured with new award

The contribution of one of the most accomplished scientific and technical advisers to the whisky industry is to be recognised with a new annual award.

Dr Jim Swan had a 40-year career as a research scientist and trusted adviser to whisky distilleries around the world prior to his sudden death in 2017, aged 75. His tireless work to collaborate, encourage and steer whisky producers to pursue excellence in whisky production, has been universally admired by the industry as they have mourned his loss over recent years.

The Scottish Whisky Awards judging panel have now received the blessing of Dr Swan’s family to create a new annual industry award which will be titled ‘The Jim Swan Award for Services to Scotch Whisky’ and will be presented to an individual making an outstanding contribution.

This year, the award will be presented to Dr Swan posthumously and will be accepted by his daughters at the Scottish Whisky Awards inaugural celebration to be held in Edinburgh in a few weeks’ time.

It will be presented alongside a tribute film featuring many of Dr Swan’s distillery clients including Annandale, Clydeside, Lindores, Cotswolds and Penderyn.

The idea, proposed by Professor Alan Wolstenholme, the chair of the judging panel, has received the full approval of the judges and many from the industry which benefitted from Dr Swan’s advice.

He said: ‘It is a real honour to be able to create this important award. It is an opportunity to keep the name and legacy of Dr Jim Swan front and centre in Scotch whisky and to celebrate his many achievements.

‘He was a passionate educator, a collaborator and a tireless supporter of new distilleries trying to get off the ground. His selfless sharing of knowledge and expertise has benefitted a huge range of distilleries in Scotland, England, Ireland, Wales and abroad.

‘It is also an opportunity to share the character of Jim which made him special. He was warm, witty and humble; a complete gentleman who selflessly shared his expertise for the benefit of the whisky industry.’

The award will be presented in front of over 400 leaders from the Scotch whisky industry at the sold-out event which takes place at Edinburgh’s Sheraton Grand Hotel. The programme which launched earlier this year attracted entries from 52 companies, including 38 distilleries and 110 scotch whiskies.

The awards dinner culminates in the announcement of the top award presented to Scottish Whisky Distillery of the Year and five distilleries have been selected as finalists; Craigellachie, The Glenallachie, Glen Scotia, Highland Park and Loch Lomond.

The Scottish Whisky Awards is an important fundraiser for two charities, The BEN, the Benevolent Society of the Licensed Trade of Scotland and the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation, set up by rugby legend Doddie Weir to help improve the lives of those affected by Motor Neurone Disease.