Jim McEwan is one of the best known d
The distillation of The Botanist is a slow, slow process. The temperature of the spirit in the still is increased until it is hand hot. Literally hand hot. It is tested by hand until it feels right – no thermometers are used. Then the core botanicals are manually loaded into the pot of the still in a particular order, and spread using rakes to form a sort of mat that sits on the surface of the liquid. They are then steeped for twelve hours before the steam pressure is increased again to simmering point and the vapours start to rise up the neck of the heavily modified vessel.
The rising vapours first hit a cluster of 85 small bore copper pipes in the neck which provide a massively increased surface area of copper, a powerful cleansing agent. It then hits a water box at the head of the still which cools the vapours and causes a reflux of any heavy oils that have escaped the copper.
Only the purest and lightest vapours turn through 90 degrees and enter the lyne arm into which the casket containing the Islay botanicals is built. These are held in loosely woven muslin sacks through which the vapour can easily pass, but even at this stage there is a reflux pipe that returns any heavier condensed spirit to the neck of the still.
The final stage of the journey is down the long shell tube condenser and into The Botanist’s own unique spirit safe, from which the stillman takes the samples to determine the precious middle cut.