Buy The Botanist – £25
70cl / 46%
The Botanist is a limited edition gin produced by the Bruichladdich distillery based in Islay. The distillery is more well known for their whisky and they have produced what they have termed an ‘Islay Dry Gin’. It is very much a product from the isle of Islay, as they sourced 21 out of the 31 botanicals used from the island itself, including the Juniper.
The list of native botanicals:
Apple Mint Birch leaves, Bog Myrtle leaves, Chamomile (sweet), Creeping Thistle flowers, Elder flowers, Gorse flowers, Heather flowers, Hawthorn flowers, Juniper (prostrate) berries, Lady’s Bedstraw flowers, Lemon Balm, Meadow Sweet, Peppermint leaves, Mugwort leaves, Red Clover flowers, Sweet Cicely leaves, Tansy, Thyme leaves, Water Mint leaves, White Clover and Wood Sage leaves.
Looking through the list, only the Juniper is a ‘normal’ gin botanical, and they supplement the gin with some more ‘traditional’ botanicals not found on the island:
Angelica root, Cassia bark, Cinnamon bark, Coriander seed, Juniper berries, Lemon peel, Liquorice root, Orange peel and Orris root
These are placed into a low pressure lomond pot-still, called ‘Ugly Betty’ and then distilled in a process that takes around three times longer than the traditional gin production process due to the low pressures they are operating at. This means that the gin is slowly simmering away for quite some time, assisting the release of the aromatics from the botanicals.
Only 15,000 bottles of The Botanist (2010) are being released, and it looks likely that if it is a success that they will produce yearly versions (due to the ever changing selection of botanicals they might use, which reflects some characters of the Blackwoods Vintage gins).
When it comes to tasting, the first thing that hits you is that it’s a very complex gin. Quite simply with the number of botanicals it is no suprise that on the nose its hard to pick out the different aromas, the juniper is certainly dominant When you consider that something like Gordon’s only has four botanicals, and most gin usually stopping at 10-12 botanicals then The Botanist is certainly something different.
When sipped neat the flavours do come through, though I’m certain I couldn’t quite say what every botanical is bringing to the table through flavour. It’s got a depth and the high alcohol content is noticeable, it’s juniper led moving into citrus and some grassy essences – it keeps on giving and the flavours linger.. At the blind tasting this was a gin that was a divisor, partly due to the higher strength but also because whilst having those citrus hints it quite a spicy finish.
It is a gin that you won’t find everywhere, and it will not please everyone but it’s certainly one I’m considering of getting another bottle of. It’s the first Islay Gin, but hopefully not the last that Bruichladdich produce.
On an aside, it’s also interesting to see on the bottle that they mention it has not been ‘chill-filtered’ (cooled down/frozen to help remove impurities) which is something you would expect to see mention of on a Whisky bottle than a Gin bottle.