Given the seemingly unstoppable growth in the market for both single-malt whiskies and “boutique” gins, it was only a matter of time before someone claimed to have combined the two in a single drink – and now it’s happened.
Ncn’ean botanical spirit is described as a “hybrid”, comprising a base of unaged whisky spirit that’s blended with 10 botanicals such as grapefruit, wild herbs, bog myrtle, coriander and heather, much of it sourced from the area near the recently established distillery at the historic Drimnin Estate on Scotland’s remote Morvern peninsula. Said to be Scotland’s first fully organic modern distillery, it opened last year in a series of traditional farm buildings converted by Ncn’ean CEO Annabel Thomas.
The Botanical Spirit – which is twice distilled at Ncn’ean before a third distillation at Scotland’s Beinn an Tuirc gin distillery, where the botanicals are added – precedes the first release of Ncn’ean traditional single-malt whisky in a couple of years’ time. Available direct from Ncn’ean in 500ml bottles at a price of £30, Botanical Spirit is best served with a top-quality tonic water or simply poured over ice with a drop of bitters, the result offering a distinctly peppery flavour with an interesting fruit undertone that certainly makes the drink stand out from most regular gins.
Whisky purists who would rather wait for the real thing, however, are invited to put their names down for Ncn’ean’s “early cask offer”, whereby 60 people will have the opportunity to own one of the first barrels of matured Ncn’ean at the price of £3,000 for a five-year aged spirit from a former bourbon cask, or £3,900 from a former wine cask. For an additional £500 per cask, the maturation period can be extended to 10 years, with each cask being expected to yield more than 300 bottles.
And if you want to see what they’re doing at the distillery before you commit – and happen to be travelling near the Morvern peninsula – Ncn’ean offers daily tours for £15 a head.