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.

22 thoughts on “The Botanist Islay Dry Gin

  • Four stars for artistry. A “perfumers” gin, for sure. Not a gin that I need to have on the shelf always (like Plymouth). But it is delightful and complex. Nice when you want to be entertained by guessing the herbology. A bit too floral for everyday. I would prefer ST. George Botanivoire on a regular basis. But still, this is a special gin – not for everyone.

  • Was introduced to this gin at the airport duty free in Paris. When I got back to Chicago my wife and I absolutely loved the smooth aroma as it deserves to be inhaled before consuming.

  • My current favorite. I like the complex and distinctive flavors.

  • Lovely, almost a hybrid of whiskey and gin! Best on its own or in limited cocktails. Didn’t come forward enough in a Negroni, but wonderful in a Lucien Gaudin! Top notch!

  • My favorite gin for a negroni. The complexity and assertiveness of the gin works perfectly.

  • For decades, Tanqueray was my gin of choice. One day, Tanqueray suddenly seemed too sweet. Now The Botanist is my Number One!!

  • The only gin I’ve ever enjoyed neat!
    I was introduced to it by a bartender who poured it with his own housemade tonic. Wow. So fragrant I have it in a Glencairn whisky glass to savor the complex nose. I love the salinity of Islay whiskeys and that comes through here as well. Looking forward to experimenting with this in cocktails.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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

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

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

  • 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.

  • IMO it lacks flavor. Although a lot more pricey I prefer Monkey 47

  • I’ve solely been committed to Hendricks for the last 10 years until yesterday when I had the privilege of savoring a Dirty Martini in Rural Michigan’s Thumb with Botanist Gin. It’s my new palatal fix when it comes to gin!

  • A sliver of preserved lemon; a sprig of tyme and ice cold Botanist. Say no more……

  • I got introduced to The Botanist Islay Dry Gin recently. I admit it, I bought a mini. While I have always loved Bombay Sapphire, and Kendricks, I wanted to taste without spending for the 750 ml bottle. Well, today I went for the 750 ml bottle, this gin is deelish! As Dan published above, The Botanist + Fevertree Natural Light Tonic + lime = nirvana!

  • Hendricks is the go-to that I seem to be able to find most of the time, and Tanq is suitable for a Martini if not Hendricks available. But, The Botanist will be the “If I see it I’ll order it” gin from now on. Just so darn good in a “ice whetted with dry vermouth and strained before adding gin” 9:1 Martini, allowing The Botanist to shine.

  • The Botanist has been my go-to gin for several years now, with Hendricks as my standby. I’ve introduced a number of friends and acquaintances to it over that time, and to a person, they have fallen in love with it. I’ll take it neat, in a martini (twist, stirred, 9:1 vermouth), or even in a Ricky. Versatile, fragrant (but not cloying), and delicious.

  • The Botanist offers a lot and is definitely a complex gin in the sense that it’s going to appeal to people in very different ways if it does, and be very divisive overall. This is what happens when you venture into gins with a higher number of botanicals, in my experience (both personally and as a host and “assistant-host” for many a soirée) so it’s hard to review and you’re bound to get a lot of very different feedback reviews.

    I’m a fan, but more for serving it up to friends as an introduction to “complex” gins. The taste isn’t complex for the number of botanicals it has, which makes it the perfect intro for people who have stuck to classics like Hendrick’s, or in my area the ever-so-common mix of Bombay Sapphire and Schweppe’s. I love introducing people to NEW ways to experience gin, and go with what they like through the evening. Some will prefer spicy/Juniper forward, some will prefer sweet flavoured gins, some will like more complex gins that have a lot going on at once and this is PERFECT for that person as an intro. It’s really good at being that type of more complex gin while also, somehow, being relatively simple and easy to work with. It’s not a tricky gin. Like someone mentioned, it’s no Monkey 47 (which is absolutely one of my favorites of all and always in stock in this household!) which really needs the proper drink to shine for the specific taster…

    I recently finished my bottle of Botanist but will likely eventually get another and add it to the permanent stock in the home bar. It brings enough to the table to earn that spot, especially since I can serve it to people who are still getting into gins and experimenting and I won’t mind “losing” a few ounces here and there. Unlike my monkey that I won’t serve unless the person is someone I think will truly appreciate it!

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