The Chuckle Bus arrives at Port Ellen and soon bounces off down the Road to Bruichladdich. Signposts to Ardbeg, Lagavulin, Bowmore... Oh we're going to have fun
This must be one of the most picturesque distilleries set on the coast. The BruichLaddies and BruichLassies usher us towards the Lomond pot still - this is a still that takes it's time. Making Botanist is labour of love and the slower distillation is necessary when you are dealing with their long list of botanics.
The botanics in Botanist are the longest that I know of and this means that to get a balance takes expert knowledge and dutiful care. So it's no surprise that the people of Bruichladdich not only make superb whiskies, but they also make a sublime gin.
There are 22 botanics that are foraged from Islay:
There are also more usual gin botanicals - so the list of 22 is not exhaustive.
Now I'm not about to go through every single botanic, but you've seen some of the names before and one thing that always sticks me with Botanist Gin is that on tasting it you'll be hard pushed to identify the various plants, berries, leaves and herbs. That is the whole point. The spectrum of taste is so well filled and so well balanced you have a symphony of taste rather than just a a botanical concerto.
On the nose Botanist is clean, smooth, sweet and very herbal - nothing really overwhelms, but the longer you smell the more you enjoy the fireworks of the plants. The taste is cool, with a slight menthol and mint then on hitting the back of the mouth you get spice and heat, with some citrus refreshing you tastebuds for more, more, more. In one word this is 'Quality'.
This is THE gin for making a classic G&T (but do yourself a favour, as well as a flavour) and pour more gin than tonic (Fever-Tree Classic) and then garnish with a mere strip of lemon peel over a quarry of ice. Before dinner, then this gin makes a Martini of such sublime taste that you need to make sure your vermouth is top notch - I'd recommend Lillet Blanc.
Another way I love to drink Botanist is a bit unfair on the gin but as a 'Blood & Sand' it is wonderful.
1 Part Botanist Gin
1 Part Lillet Rouge
1 Part Cherry Herring Liqueur
1 Part Orange Juice
Shake over ice and strain into a martini glass. (Yes, you can do this with Whisky too - damn right, you can.)
Now as we are here at Bruichladdich - let's snoop about - time to explore some whiskies. Lets stay for a few days, let the bus driver have a rest and a drink.