The Botanist Islay Dry Gin

The BotanistAlthough distilled at a distillery better known for Scotch (Bruichladdich) and in a region of the world better known for Scotch (the Southern reaches of the Hebridean islands), The Botanist Gin is no Islay Scotch.

Rather, The Botanist Gin is an exploration of Hebridean flora.

In 2011, what the Bruichladdich distillery was still rather unusual. Foraged botanicals are commonplace in gins that make a statement of place. Of the massive 31 botanicals in The Botanist, a full twenty-two of them are locally foraged and they range from the quotidian  (spearmint) to the hardy, weedy, and unusual in gin (yellow bedstraw).

Yellow Bedstraw in a gin? This one is interesting for many reasons. Firstly, another plant that goes by the name of Bedstraw is more common in gin. The sweet woodruff or just plain woodruff is sometimes called bedstraw and is a not-too-unusual flavoring ingredient.

Yellow bedstraw, or as The Botanist Gin team calls it “Lady’s Bedstraw” is a yellow plant that was once used as bedding and has a distinctive Tonka-Bean like aroma of fresh, creamy hay. Unusual in culinary applications, it has traditional uses as a dye and in Nordic spirits. Most of the world knows it as a weed due to its hardy and opportune ability to colonize sprawling and disturbed grasslands.

Tasting Notes

Dispel the notion that an excess of botanicals means you can’t have a classic gin nose: plenty of juniper, lemon and orange zest mingling with meadowsweet and woodruff.

The texture of the spirit rather nice, with a slightly oily, pleasant palate coating presence.

Cool mint and juniper, slightly pine-forward juniper at first. Citrus, primarily lemon zest on the early mid-palate before sweet spices and flower come through. Woodruff, chamomile and herbs de provence. Warm juniper late with echoes of vanilla cream, licorice and birch bark. Fairly long, fairly dry finish with a gentle, pleasing astringency.

I really like the way the seemingly boundless list of woodland herbs and flowers come together so nicely to create a harmonious, well-balanced accord. Whereas many gins with a kitchen-sink list of botanicals seem to be a battle for attention; every botanical amped up as if to scream, “I’m in here, notice me,” The Botanist Gin manages to include a lot without seeming like there’s a lot. It’s focused, and surprising to the palate, in the way that a good perfume seems to be composed of so much less. I’d say that the Botanist Gin on the palate is a perfumers’ gin.

Cocktails

The Botanist Gin is a versatile mixing gin in the sense that it works well and delivers a classic gin flavor to most any cocktail; however some of that nuance and aromatic layers that can be tasted neat don’t quite come through. Well that is on any except The Martini, which I wholeheartedly recommend with this gin. I suggest a drier than usual 9:1 with a twist, owing to the botanical complexity you don’t need as much botanical complexity from the Vermouth.

My shortlist would also recommend The Aviation and The Clover Club Cocktail, though really any mixed drink like The Gimlet or of course, The Gin and Tonic, are good with The Botanist. In mixed drinks, it adds a pleasant floral and herbal undernote to the gentle juniper-forward profile it already brings.

Overall 

The Botanist Gin is certainly evidence that the Hebridean Islands are about more than just Scotch. Well balanced, but sufficiently complex; The Botanist Gin may be the floral/herbal gin most well suited to entice the classic gin aficionado a bit step ever so slightly outside of their comfort zone.

This is a well-made gin with fine attention to detail. The Botanist Gin is more than just a gin with a huge amount of botanicals; it’s a well crafted and constructed gin that showcases the power of teamwork.

Recommended to both fans of classic and contemporary gin, though it may be too classic for the ardent contemporarians and too contemporary for the most ardent classicists. Though I hope both can recommend a good product.

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Readers' Reviews

Last updated March 23rd, 2017 by Aaron

8 thoughts on “The Botanist Islay Dry Gin

  • July 26, 2014by holmesg

    I’m here in the UK. It’s way too early for a G&T but then again, way too hot not to be having one. So, my standard 35ml measure of The Botanist, 150ml of Schweppes tonic, perfectly chilled glass, loads of ice…
    What a magnificent drink. The gin is perhaps at the more pricier end of my range, but I can definitely smell and taste that it’s worth it. Made my day.

  • November 14, 2014by Martin Brewer

    As a 30 year Beefeater devotee, my first sip on the rocks with a twist left me at a loss for description of the flavor, except for my realization that the lemon twist was unnecessary. The Botanist definitely has multiple favors (more so than Beefeaters) that will appeal to a variety of taste buds when combined with other flavonoid accents.

  • December 13, 2014by Steve

    I highly recommend this Gin. It’s my new favorite. Now trying to find a good supplier here in the USA. I think I’ll call the distiller and have them ship several cases. I don’t want to run out.

  • August 16, 2015by Roger

    I have been buying high end gins over here in Perth, Aus for the past year and must admit The Botanist has been a stand out favorite (but then I did have a litre bottle from duty free of this one to work through!). Great flavour, very refreshing with tonic, especially Fever Tree.

  • September 25, 2015by Pat

    I prefer it neat so that I can savor the different flavors and smells. I use Hendricks for my gin and tonics.
    As an older female

  • October 1, 2015by Steve

    The Botanist is my Favorite. It is far to good to polute it with anything but an ice cube.

  • January 21, 2016by dan

    Two ounces of the Botanist, 6.8 oz bottle of Fever Tree Natural Light, a bit of lime and lots of ice. Perfection.

  • March 7, 2016by Tim Davis

    Acha Vermouth generously wetting the ice, then shaken with 3+ oz of this wonderful elixir. Two olives…Friday evening. Magical with oysters as a bonus. The Botanist is as smooth and balanced as any Gin I have had.

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