Whiskey and Craft Beer Reviews

Botanist Gin, Bruichladdich Islay Distillery

Botanist Gin, Bruichladdich Islay Distillery



And now for something completely different.

Maltbuzz is a website dedicated to all things malt, craft beers and whiskies in particular. So how do we get off including a small-batch, artisanal gin. Well since The Botanist is made by Bruichladdich a single malt distillery on the island of Islay, and is made with at least some malted barley to start the fermentation process I feel it’s ok. So here goes.

I am no expert on gin so I will not offer a review of The Botanist, I will just say it is delicious. It is very perfumed, creamy and very smooth.  It is also a nice refreshing change of pace for the whisky lover.

The Botanist is distilled in very rare still called a Lomond still. This experimental still was created during World War II and is a combination of a pot still and the super-efficient column still. The thought process behind this was to create a still that produced a whisky with all the complexity of a single malt scotch in a much more efficient way. I believe there were only two of these stills ever produced and Bruichladdich’s is the only one in production.

So how did this still wind up at Bruichladdich? Like all things Bruichladdich that is a long and interesting story.

One day Jim McEwan got a phone call from a metal scrapper salvaging at the closed Dumbarton grain distillery, he told Jim they were going away for the weekend but Jim should get over to the distillery and see what he found in a back room. When Jim and his crew saw it they knew it was a still but it was unlike any they had ever seen before.  They called it “Ugly Betty” loaded it on to a barge for the trip down river to their island distillery. It was this seemingly innocent journey that got Bruichladdich on the terrorist watch list.

In the months after September 11th trying to move a large, long missile shaped object around the world could be and was being watched by government satellites all over the world.  This and the fact that Bruichladdich was a relatively new (reopened) distillery put them on the long list of possible enemy sites to watch.

How they found out they were on the terrorist watch list is also an interesting story check it out.

When Bruichladdich got Ugly Betty up and working they found it was too efficient to produce quality single malt whisky, and not efficient enough to produce cheap flavorless alcohol for vodka. So what to do? They decided why not a vodka with flavor, Gin.  When you’ve been in the scotch business since you were 15 years old, and have over 40 years of distilling experience, the thought of making just another gin doesn’t seem to  appealing,  but making a very special gin does. Jim found nine classic aromatics used in gin production on his home island of Islay, he then set out to find others. In total 22 aromatics are used, all harvested by hand from the peat bogs, shores or windy hills of Islay.

The result is a gin worthy of a mention on a whiskey site.

Find it and enjoy.


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