Back in 2011, when the famous Bruichladdich distillery launched Botanist Gin, the Gin market looked way different than today. Classic London Dry Gins were dominating while new and unconventional New Western Dry Gins, like Hendrick's or Tanqueray No 10, tried to compete with these more classic kinds of Gin.
What Bruichladdich did with its Botanist Islay Dry Gin was far from standard. They tried to capture the nature of Islay by using 22 botanicals harvested on the Island into the Gin in addition to 9 more or less classic flavoring ingredients. What is common practice today and often seen in Gins from the Mediterranean region or South Africa was a novelty back then.
But Botanist Gin is more than just exceptional in its ingredient selection, it is definitely one of the most influential and high-quality Gins of this time. Learn more about the Gin, how it tastes, and how to best use it in cocktails.
- Produced by: Bruichladdich
- Distilled at: Bruichladdich distillery on Islay, Scotland
- Style: Dry Gin
- ABV: 46% ABV
- Spirit base: 100% wheat spirit
- Taste: Herbs, flowers, mint, juniper, and lemon
- Best served: Gin and Tonic
All in all, the Gin is made with 31 different botanicals, most coming directly from Islay. The plants from Islay are sustainably harvested, which means they get enough time to regrow before the next harvest. As a rule of thumb, it takes seven months to harvest enough botanicals to produce one batch of Botanist Gin.
Here are the 22 Islay-specific botanicals:
- Apple Mint
- Bog Myrtle
- Creeping Thistle
- Downy Birch
- Heather flowers
- Juniper (prostrate)
- Lady’s Bedstraw
- Lemon Balm
- Red Clover
- Spear mint
- Sweet Cicely
- Water mint
- White clover
- Wilt thyme
- Wood sage
The nine more classic botanicals in the Gin are:
- Cassia bark
- Cinnamon bark
- Lemon Peel
- Orris root
The mighty amount of botanicals and the high ratio of unusual ones indicates that this Gin won't offer a classic nose; -And it really does not. The nose is quite floral and perfumy but not overly strong.
On the palate, the Gin is doing an excellent job of combining and marrying the various flavors into a well-balanced flavor profile. You won't be able to taste the high amount of different botanicals. Instead, you get classic flavors with some surprises here and there.
Warm juniper notes mix with herbal and floral flavors, accompanied by classics like lemon, licorice, and spicy notes. It's hard to say whether you should classify it as a classic flavor profile or more like a contemporary one; -I would tend to classic, though.
How Botanist Gin is made
Botanist Gin is produced in a two-step infusion process. First, a set of nine base botanicals are macerated in a mix of 100% wheat spirit and Islay spring. These botanicals include barks like cinnamon and cassia, peels from oranges and lemons, the two types of juniper berries, and the roots from licorice and orris.
In the second step, the macerated base is distilled and vapor infused with the other botanicals. The Gin is distilled slowly, using a Lomond Still called "Ugly Betty". It's the last of its kind and takes about 17 hours for one distillation.
The still is made from copper and comparable to a pot still but with some similarities to a column still. It was invented in 1955 and was mainly used to produce Whiskey.
Different versions of Botanist Gin
Botanist is a traditional brand that, so far, keeps away from fancy flavored Gin expressions. However, over time they developed at least two other worthy releases.
Botanist Islay Dry Gin
The classic Dry Gin, made with 31 different botanicals bottled at 46% ABV. This is an excellent Gin to enjoy neat but also works perfectly in classic Gin cocktails like a Negroni or a Dry Martini.
Botanist Hebridean Strength
The Hebridean Strength expression is a bolder, richer, and more flavorful version of the classic Islay Dry Gin and comes at 51.5% ABV. The texture of the spirit is richer and oilier, and the flavors of the botanicals are more intense, making it a perfect choice for people who prefer a stronger taste of Islay essences.
Botanist Gin Plant Conservation Edition
This limited edition donates 5£ with every bottle to plant conservation projects worldwide. It's bottled at 46% ABV, just like the classic Botanist Gin.
How much is Botanist Dry Gin?
The Botanist Dry Gin isn't the cheapest Gin out there and costs slightly above $40 per bottle. Still, the Gin is well worth this price tag. It is of superb quality and an excellent allrounder.
|Botanist Islay Dry Gin
|Botanist Hebridean Strength Gin
|Botanist Gin Plant Conservation Edition
How to Drink
The Botanist is one of these rare finds, which work in every possible way. It's perfect when drinking it neat to discover the aromas and flavors of the spirit. It also works in classics like Gin and Tonic, Dry Martini, Gin Sour, and Gin Fizz.
On top, the rich flavor profile also makes it an excellent choice in a Negroni, White Negroni, and many other cocktails you can make with Gin. So far, I could not find a Gin cocktail recipe that didn't work with the Botanist.