The Botanist Announces Winners of the Forager

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

This month saw the announcement of Phil Bandarous from Kloof Street House, Cape Town, and Julian Short from The Landmark, Johannesburg, as the winners of the THE FORAGER, a unique pop-up bar series presented by The Botanist gin. Both bartenders impressed their audiences with an outstanding quality of foraged serves across all categories.

In the lead up to each event, six of Cape Town and Johannesburg’s finest bartenders attended a bespoke foraging experiences, where the bartenders personally hand foraged indigenous and seasonal ingredients.

Then, on each night at THE FORAGER, the bartenders competed in a challenge to craft the most interesting serves using The Botanist Gin and their own locally hand foraged botanicals. These were presented to guests who then cast their vote for the cocktail they felt was the best.

The final leg of the Cape Town competition was inspired by the forest. Phil blew the crowd away with his “Ulendo The Journey”, the winning cocktail, consisting of The Botanist Gin, mushroom shrub, agave nectar and egg white.

“This cocktail tells the story of the journey offered to us by The Botanist gin, having to create foraged serves with our hand-picked botanicals and being able to tell our story” he explained.

The Johannesburg series ended with a bushveld forage which inspired Julian Short to captivate the audience with his winning foraged serve, “Hide and Seek”. This cocktail consisted of The Botanist Gin, wild ginger blossoms, pineapple sage leaves and flowers, marula nuts, osmanthus, pachira nuts, pink peppercorns, apple vinegar, rose geranium and carob pods.

“Foraging in the wild has reawakened an inner world of youthful conviviality, and this cocktail is all about embracing the wonders and curiosity of being an adventurous child again,” explained Julian.

Both winners will be going on an all-expense paid trip to the home of The Botanist in Islay to experience first-hand the philosophy behind the gin and foraging in the Hebrides.

About The Botanist Gin

Conceived distilled and hand crafted by distilling legend Jim McEwan, The Botanist is a super premium artisanal gin distilled at the Bruichladdich Distillery on the wild Hebridean island of Islay.

It is trickle distilled and augmented with a heady harvest of 22 botanicals hand-picked by an expert foraging team from the windswept hills, peat bogs and Atlantic shores of the island. The botanists seasonally and sustainably forage for these aromatic botanicals by hand from the hills, shores and bogs of this fertile Hebridean island and then carefully dry them in preparation for distillation.

The layered complexity of The Botanist is an inspiration to professional mixologists who appreciate the flavour potential of ingredients foraged from their own local environments – to introduce a very personal dimension to this complex spirit.

Although it was originally designed to operate at significantly lower pressure than mainstream commercial stills, Jim McEwan then instigated a further series of radical modifications aimed at slowing down the distillation process even further. The aim was to maximise reflux of the heavy vapours while gently coaxing the essential oils from the foraged island botanicals. The distillation process is slow, almost painfully so, but: “the result,” claims McEwan, “is a highly seductive, satin-smooth gin with exploding floral aromas and a rich, mellow taste.

This is a gin as much for the mind as for the palate – a thinking person’s gin.

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