To mix or not to mix! This is a dilemma that purists often face when presented with a libation of repute. The situation is dichotomous for sure. On one hand is the premise of appreciating a drink unadulterated in the same spirit as it was produced. On the other hand, it is the prospect of exploring uncharted flavour territories. The solution? Enjoy it both ways- first as a standalone and later as cocktail(s). Something as I did at an exclusive cocktail session with Caitlin Hill, Brand Ambassador Progressive Hebridean Distillers (PHD) – the makers of Bruichladdich (The Laddie) whisky and The Botanist gin.
Caitlin arrived in India to conduct a series of masterclasses and cocktail soirées for trade, media and consumers. Looking at the packed houses, the response that she received was nothing short of overwhelming. I was privileged to be invited by Prarrthona Pal Chowdhury, Country Manager Indian Sub-Continent Rémy Cointreau to an exclusive preview session for media at The Lodhi hotel, before the evening went groovy . In the two hours plus that followed, we saw passionate pours and deft moves that presented The Classic Laddie and The Botanist in their various avatars.
The USP of Bruichladdich and The Botanist
But why such a fuss over a whisky and a gin? Aren’t we having enough of these already? The answer lies in the uniqueness of both the beverages in question. While the Laddie defies the stereotype of peated and sea influenced Islay malts, The Botanist is the first and only Dry Gin from Islay which incorporates 22 indigenous botanicals from the Hebridean Island, besides its nine classic ingredients (see pic alongside).
The packaging for both the beverages is quite eye-catching too! The Classic Laddie comes in an aqua blue ceramic-reminiscent bottle encased in a corresponding tin. The Botanist looks spanking in a clear bottle embossed with the Latin names of its 22 native botanicals.
A memorable evening
We warmed up to the evening with a straight pour of The Classic Laddie, tasting it the conventional way- first without and then diluted half and half with water. The whisky which has 50% Alcohol by Volume (ABV) is caressing on the palate with its round body, complemented by floral, fruity and sweet oak nuances.
Apart from The Classic Laddie and the other unpeated Bruichladdich variants, Progressive Hebridean Distillers also produce a heavily peated whisky called Port Charlotte and a super heavily peated one called Octomore.
Caitlin highlighted that The Classic Laddie is produced with 100% Scottish barley, blended as a multi-vintage cuvée and aged in both American as well as French oak. Adam Hannett, Master Distiller PHD has done an appreciable job, maintaining the whisky’s approachability without losing out on its complexity.
After The Classic Laddie I quickly seized the opportunity of a barebone sampling of The Botanist gin, before Caitlin donned the mixologist’s apron. The Gin came across smoothly with a unique flavor profile that Caitlin attributed to its provenance, traceability and authenticity. Apart from its unique botanicals, The Botanist, is distilled in a Lomond Pot Still (a cross between a pot and a column still) with a three times longer ‘simmer’ distillation, thus yielding a highly refined spirit.
Having done the serious work, it was time to dive into the colourful and creative world of cocktails. Caitlin started with a Corpse Reviver– a classic made with The Botanist Gin, Dry Vermouth, Cointreau, Fresh Lemon Juice and a dash of Absinthe.
This was followed by Ulex Clover Club (The Botanist Gin, Coconut and Raspberry Syrup and Lemon Juice) and Terroir High Ball (Classic Laddie, Plum Syrup, Fresh Lemon and Soda). Both the cocktails were extremely fresh and reinforced the role of quality ingredients differentiating the great from the good.
The evening went on with several rounds of cocktails appeasing individual tastes amid interesting bar conversations.
The Laddie and The Botanist having arrived famously.
The Classic Laddie retails in India at an approximate price of Rs 13000 ($ 195) and The Botanist at an approx Rs. 7400 ($ 111). The beverages are imported and distributed in India by Sula Selections– the import arm of the country’s leading winemaker Sula Vineyards.