Review: The Botanist Islay Dry Gin (2012)
By now my foolish claim that Scotland made only one gin has been widely disproven (by myself, even), but The Botanist makes a more specific, and so far irrefutable, assertion: It’s the only gin made on the island of Islay, that part of Scotland that gives us its peatiest Scotch whiskys, the ones with (arguably) the most character.
The Botanist is made at Bruichladdich, distilled from wheat and infused with a massive collection of botanicals: All of the traditional ones (nine here), plus a whopping 22 additional, native botanicals which are picked wild on the island of Islay (see complete list below). The gin is infused in two stages: First the standard gin stuff goes in, then the second batch of goodies are infused using a basket infusion process. Bruichladdich claims it’s a slow operation, taking three times as long as most gins to make (which, to be honest, is not that long anyway).
15,000 bottles were made in the first batch.
Results: The Botanist offers a surprisingly clean aroma, very light on juniper with some citrus and cinnamon notes in the forefront. With all this stuff going on (and in) I was expecting a monster gin, but The Botanist is surprisingly easygoing and, dare I say, not Islay-like at all. Smoke? Absolutely not. This is a gin that’s surprisingly sweet and really fresh tasting. Evergreen is there, but it’s all the basil-like tones that make it so much fun — not to mention lots of citrus, cinnamon, and mint tones really rounding things out. There’s a reason they call it The Botanist, and not because it’s meant to evoke a scary old man that still lives with his mom. The body is a bit oily, but quite smooth and easy in spite of its higher proof level.
This is really an exceptional gin that deserves seeking out, or calling by name in any proper mixed drink.
Complete botanical list: Angelica root *, Apple Mint, Birch leaves, Bog Myrtle leaves, Cassia bark *, Chamomile (sweet), Cinnamon bark *, Coriander seed *, Creeping Thistle flowers, Elder flowers, Gorse flowers, Heather flowers, Hawthorn flowers, Juniper (prostrate) berries, Juniper berries *, Lady’s Bedstraw flowers, Lemon Balm, Lemon peel *, Liquorice root *, Meadow Sweet, Orange peel *, Orris root *, Peppermint leaves, Mugwort leaves, Red Clover flowers, Sweet Cicely leaves, Tansy, Thyme leaves, Water Mint leaves, White Clover, Wood Sage leaves. (* = Non Islay Botanical)