When I was a teenager, I watched a lot of television. In fact, perhaps the only thing I did more than watch TV was eat – after all, I could watch TV and eat at the same time. I do not suppose sitting in front of the screen with a packet of biscuits and a bucket of Coca-Cola was very healthy at all. It also probably didn’t help much in forming interpersonal relationship during my informative years. On the other hand, it nurtured mu interest in cinema and indirectly, literature.
One of my favourite series was Friends. Friends certainly was not an e shining example of high culture, but it was a fad during my teenage years. The show lasted for ten seasons – much longer than is expected of any television series today – and exactly where it should have done. In the transition from pre-adolescence to adulthood, where comedy, hopes and dreams lose ground to… well, let’s drop it. Friends, however, has a stain on its reputation: A spin-off, released shortly after the end of the show and simply entitled Joey.
What is beyond my understanding is how anyone thought that would be a good idea. Follow Joey Tribbiani on his journey to becoming a serious actor. I mean, as Rolling Stone Magazine once wrote, it would be better to follow Phoebe to Central Perk, or Rachel and Ross in their married life, raising their children. After all, life as a couple with children provides plenty more opportunity for tragicomedy. Needless to say, the series was a flop.
This is the big problem with spin-offs. The great success of the original doesn’t guarantee the popularity of its derivative. It’s a risk you take. Incidentally, I would say it’s an even greater risk because you’re playing with something that already has such a good reputation. It’s exactly this that Bruichladdich, one of the best-known, respected and innovative whisky distilleries in Scotland did, when it launched a gin. Botanist. However, unlike Friends and Joey, Botanist worked.
Distillation of Botanist takes place in an unusual alembic, reclaimed from the Inverleven distillery and known as Lomond. It is affectionately nicknamed ‘Ugly Betty’ by the distillery employees. The nickname, which obviously refers to the appearance of the equipment, could not be more appropriate. The alembic is pretty ugly – so ugly, in fact that the Scottish writer Tom Morton described it in his book “Spirit of Adventure” as “an oversized, upside–down dustbin made of copper.”
Although they are well below the aesthetic standards of heavy equipment, the Lomond are very efficient. They were designed by a Lord named Alastair Cunningham in 1955, as a kind of hybrid between a column distiller and a copper alembic. Its neck has copper plates, which can be removed or added to simulate a shorter or longer neck of a traditional alembic. The top section can easily be adjusted to imitate different inclines of the distiller’s arm. This allows the production of different distillate profiles using only one alembic
Botanist contains 31 different botanics: 22 Re native to the Islay Island. They are, angelica root, apple mint, birch leaves, bog myrtle leaves, cassia bark, chamomile, cinnamon bark, coriander seed, creeping thistle flowers, elder flowers, gorse flowers, heather flowers, hawthorn flowers, juniper berries, lardy’s bedstraw flowers, lemon balm, lemon peel, liquorice root, meadow sweet, orange peel, oris root, peppermint leaves, mugwort leaves, red clover flowers, tansy, thyme leaves, water mint leaves, white clover, wood sage leaves.
Bruichladdich is one of Scotland’s most inventive distilleries. Maybe that’s why it calls itself “Progressive Hebridean Distillers” – something like “Progressive Heaters of the Hebrides”. This is clear from a glance at its huge portfolio. As well as Botanist, the distillery produces three whisky lines. One is lightly smoked, another not smoked at all and a third strongly smoked – Octomore.
Botanist is a dry gin, with a distinct aroma and herbal flavour. Despite the myriad of botanists, this dog’s impression is that it highlights the refreshing peppermint and citrus aromas. In fact, that’s where the balance lies, the strength of the juniper contrasts with the herbal aroma of mint and orange, which – together with other Botanists – gives it incredible complexity.
If you like full-bodied, complex and personality-oriented gins, or are just curious about which gin is made in a whisky distillery, try Botanist. Indeed, a spin-off deserves an audience.
THE BOTANIST ISLAY DRY GIN
Type – Dry Gin
ABV – 46%
Comments on taste:
Aroma: juniper, lemon, lime Orange, and an intense floral aroma
Flavour: Mint, citrus, lemon, with a liquorice, floral after taste.