Tag: single malt

Gin of the week: The Botanist

Thursday, 17 August, 2017 0 Comments

The very talented Robert Macfarlane is presently “Reader in Literature and the Geohumanities in the Faculty of English” at the University of Cambridge. He’s also a prolific tweeter of beautiful words and his pick yesterday, “islomania“, has proven to be hugely popular: “the condition of finding islands irresistibly, even obsessively, fascinating & appealing (Lawrence Durrell).”

For drinkers of single malt whisky, the Hebridean island of Islay is irresistibly, even obsessively, fascinating & appealing. The names on the bottles stimulate the palate: Ardbeg, Bruichladdich, Caol Ila and, of course, the mighty Laphroaig. But those canny distillers know which way the wind blows, which is why they’ve boarded the gin train, so to speak, with The Botanist.

This is a classically floral gin but with a character that evokes bogs, turf and Atlantic surf. The Joycean drinker would say that it reveals itself as a nostrilfill of meadowsweet, a tonguetaste of purity, a mouthfeel of spice markets and a throatfinish of agreeable astringency. Upon deeper reflection, there’s juniper, ginger, turmeric, citrus, orris root, coriander seed, cassia bark, rose, cucumber and blackcurranty things.

Botanist gin

Note: The Botanist is the fifth in a gin series that began with Blackwater No. 5, was followed by Friedrichs and continued with Dingle and Bulldog.


Drink of the Year

Thursday, 17 December, 2015 0 Comments

And the Rainy Day award goes to Caol Ila 12 Year Old Single Malt. Why? Because winter is here and ‘flu prevention measures have to be taken. Seriously. And this is a seriously medicinal single malt. Check out the Official Tasting Notes: “Nose: Subdued, citric fruitiness; a whiff of bath oil and dentist’s mouthwash. A little water raises almond oil and old-fashioned oilskins; still a fresh fruitiness (lychees?), a trace of olive oil, and after a while pot pourri or scented hand-soap.”

Kills bad breath, doubles as a deodorant and protects against the hospital bug — what more could one want? But that’s not all. Based on personal tasting, we can confirm that this remarkable whisky also delivers a tang of seaweed, a whiff of smoke, a glimpse of green barley, a hint of lemon pudding, a taste of treacle, a perception of salt, a smidgen of creosote and, depending on one’s temperament and temperature, wellness. Seriously.

Caol Ila

Tomorrow, here, the Rainy Day Video of the Year award.


Protection from internal parasites

Friday, 2 May, 2014 0 Comments

Agriculturally, sheep dip is a liquid insecticide that farmers use to protect their herds from parasites such as ticks and lice. But the term was also a synonym for home-made whisky, which was made illegally and stored in plastic containers marked “Sheep Dip” to protect it from the inquisitive eyes of policemen and revenue collectors. In the 1980’s, British farmers were ordering hundreds of cases of “Sheep Dip” from distillers and including it in their accounts as insecticide until the scam was exposed and the customers were fined for tax evasion when it was discovered that most of them didn’t have a lamb or a ewe or a ram on their lands.

The legal version of the drinkable Sheep Dip is made of pure malts from the four distilling regions of Scotland. It is a mild and pleasant drink made all the more charming by its backstory and the fierce-looking sheep on the label.

Sheep Dip


The Shady Grove of Orkney

Saturday, 6 April, 2013 0 Comments

The islands of Orkney in the cold waters of the North Sea are the most remote of Scotland’s whisky-producing areas. Along with Arran, Jura, Mull and Skye, Orkney is part of the Islands whisky region. Today, there are only two distilleries on Orkney: Highland Park and Scapa. Apart from whisky, Orkney has given the world the excellent Kris Drever.

Wish I had a banjo string
Made of golden twine
Every tune I’d play on it
I wish that girl were mine

Wish I had a needle and thread
Fine as I could sew
I’d sew that pretty girl to my side
And down the road I’d go


Saving the Laphroaig from the Taliban

Thursday, 19 January, 2012

Brrrr! It’s cold and dark, wet and windy out there. Looks like it’ll be a weekend for a good book and generous glasses of single malt whisky. Up for a rereading is News From No Man’s Land by the legendary BBC foreign correspondent, John Simpson. This is the third in a series of three autobiographical […]

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