By Rupert Wheeler

All Change on the Whisky Front

New vistas, new challenges and new horizons
As detailed in issue 119 I have very recently been appointed Managing Editor and it will take some months to settle down into this new role. It's also a change in that after 27 years living a very rural life in North Norfolk we have sold our house and moved temporarily to a nearby small town. As with most things it takes time to adapt and there have certainly been more ups than downs. I was convinced that it would be a lot noisier, it isn't. I thought we would not hear as much bird song but it's as boisterous as ever and this morning I was woken to the sound of chickens, something I never heard when living the 'rural life'. And so with change in mind it neatly takes us to changes to the magazine. We have appointed a number of contributing editors throughout the world which we hope means that we can get maximum coverage of whisky related topics. By appointing them in the various countries (see opposite page) they will provide news, views, events and launch coverage from their own particular region.

In this issue we are focusing on Islay and Jura which are situated off the west coast of Scotland in the Inner Hebrides. Hans Offrigna gives us an overall look at the two islands and he also weaves a fascinating story of how George Orwell, with the generosity of David Astor, the then editor of the Observer newspaper, arrived on Jura in 1946 and proceeded to start work on his famous novel 1984 which was published in 1949, at a time when he was very unwell, and he later died in 1950.

We are introducing a new illustrator to the magazine, Steven Shand, who has contributed an illustration showing the near disastrous boating incident in the Gulf of Corryvreckan which nearly cost George Orwell and his companions their lives.

Ian Buxton one of our regular contributors, takes in Bruichladdich as our distillery focus and examines the fairly recent takeover by Rémy Cointreau... a good move? Read on.

I had never realised the importance of either a/distilleries or in particular b/ the island of Jura in helping the war effort during World War II. Stills were used to produce alcohol at very high proof to help in the manufacture of armaments such as bombs etc and Fred Minnick examines this as well as how the great Bessie Williamson at Laphroaig Distillery took on the Ministry of Defence and won!

I have been a jazz lover for many a year and especially the sound of the tenor sax when played by a master called Grover Washington Junior who unfortunately is no longer with us. Hans Offringa, another of our regular contributors, is a jazz aficionado and has contributed a piece on the influence of Jazz on Islay which now runs its own Jazz Festival every year. Musicians come from all over the world to play at one of the venues which are usually in distilleries and must make an interesting accoustic. Hans has even written a book called Malts and Jazz which is a true blend between ten famous jazz musicians and ten terrific single malts.

Our production articles have, from reader feedback, been popular and in this issue Ian Wisniewski examines the importance of the mash tun, mashing and the importance of the mashman.

Finally Davin de Kermommeaux meets Hiram Walker's Master Blender who is convinced that 'The next big thing is all around grains'.

Since I started at the beginning of April I have been overwhelmed by invitations to distilleries, launches and whisky tastings all of which I have 'managed' to resist. Being relatively new to the whisky business I am determined to remain office bound for at least the first three months. To learn the ropes, to avail myself more with whisky and its tastes and to learn more about the industry. Once I feel more confident I will be more than a willing participant so I hope to meet more of you once I get out and about.

Sitting here in the editor's chair is not as easy as it sounds and I would welcome you our readers to contact me. What do you like about the magazine? What do you want more of? How do you think we could make the magazine better. Are you a fan of the digital magazine. I welcome your feedback at