Jen is naturally an outdoors person. Living in the west of Glasgow gives her the perfect mix of city convenience and proximity to open green spaces and fresh air. But she relishes her visits to Islay.
“It all clicks when you get to Islay. When I first visited I could not believe the island, I couldn’t believe the distillery, it was the most welcoming place in the world! It was like a big family, like nothing I had ever known before.
“It’s the heartbeat of the business. It’s really important to get over [to Islay], that’s where most of my colleagues live.
“When you go over you feel really inspired. You remember that it’s about this community and it is about supporting people on the island, and making sure they have got jobs and opportunities, it’s a real place.”
It’s important to feel connected, she says, and that commitment to its Islay roots sets The Botanist, and Bruichladdich, apart.
“I love waking up in An Tigh Osda [Bruichladdich’s accommodation] and opening up my blinds and seeing the shore, or seeing the sunrise and the ocean. Or staying at the Academy and walking down the hill to the distillery and hearing the water in the stream and smelling the air, it smells so clean. Then you get into the distillery and there’s all the smells of the mash tun.
“Whatever they are distilling that day you can tell, and it just feels so real, and it’s all about that sensory experience – smelling it, feeling it, touching it.. and that really helps.”
It’s Jen’s job to bring some of that to life and communicate it throughout the world. Whilst the pandemic has put the brakes on a lot of travel recently, Jen had been to the US, which is an important country for The Botanist. She’s also travelled extolling the virtues of The Botanist in Europe and Scandinavia.
“This isn’t about just drinks, it’s much more than that. It’s drinks, food, a lifestyle, nature, a whole approach…” she says.
Being part of a business which works actively to protect biodiversity, not just here on Islay but around the world, is part of what fires Jen’s enthusiasm.