Dr Jim Swan – everyone’s favourite whisky expert?

Dr Jim Swan passed away February 2017, sadly missed by many.  Jim was my mentor, he changed my life” Charlie Maclean.

The man was a legend, am told he was an expert particularly in all aspects of wood. I never met him, he was maybe best known for his work with Kavalan “It’s hard to put into words what Dr Swan meant to me” Kavalan’s Ian Chang. As mentioned, I never met Jim, he was Charlies mentor, Charlie is mine, we have met many times and indeed he is Patron of our whisky club and fellow Maclean Clansman. Most recently he had been working with the new Clydeside Distillery in Glasgow and Lindores Abbey in Fife. Dr Swan was due to attend the opening of Lindores Abbey Distillery this summer. Drew and Helen McKenzie Smith, founders of Lindores Abbey Distillery, said: ‘We are immensely saddened by the passing of our great friend and champion, Dr James Swan. Jim’s passion for the return of Scotch whisky to Lindores Abbey was infectious, and his counsel to us as distillery founders inspirational. We worked together for 20 years, taking the vision for this special whisky landmark from a dream to a reality. We will forever be indebted to Jim’s contribution to the life of Lindores Abbey Distillery.

Dr Swan graduated from Heriot-Watt University in 1979 with a PhD in chemistry and biological sciences. He worked with chemical analysis consultancy Tatlock and Thomson and established the Dr James Swan food and drink consultancy in 2002. He also managed UK Government and EU research programmes, and authored several scientific research papers, but he is also known among whisky enthusiasts as being one of the original authors of the Whisky Flavour Wheel in the late 1970s, still used today, while working with the Scotch Whisky Research Institute.

It is rare that one man can influence a whole industry, I think Jim did just that. Enjoy the Angels Share’s Jim, my dad will keep you company.