Whisky Regions

Islay Series #5: The Botanist Gin by Bruichladdich


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I’ll have to admit right off the bat that I’m not a big gin drinker – this could very well be because the standard gin varieties (I’m mainly pointing my finger at Gordon’s, here) are utter nonsense, and drinking that pretty much put me off the stuff. I was very surprised to find myself not only enjoying, but darn near loving, a glass of neat gin which was presented to me at my recent visit to the Bruichladdich distillery. It had completely passed me by that Bruichladdich are now not only a whisky distillery, but also make a lovely gin called “The Botanist”.

The Botanist is made using no fewer than 31 botanicals; 22 of which are collected on Islay, and a further 9 which are sourced from elsewhere. If, like me, you don’t know much about gin, that may not immediately impress you; but once you hear that Gordon’s contains only four botanicals and your average gin somewhere in the area of 12-13, it’s in a league of its own on that account. Reportedly, the 22 ‘native’ Islay botanicals are:

Chamomile, Sweet Cicely leaves, Water Mint leaves, Wood Sage leaves, Wormwood leaves, Creeping Thistle flowers, Apple Mint Birch leaves, Bog Myrtle leaves, Meadow Sweet, Hawthorn flowers, Lady’s Bedstraw flowers, Red Clover flowers, White Clover, Thyme leaves, Juniper berries, Peppermint, Elder flowers, Tansy, Gorse flowers, Lemon Balm and Heather flowers.

To which the following 9 are added:

Orris root, Liquorice root, Juniper berries, Orange peel, Coriander seed, Cassia bark, Lemon peel, Cinnamon bark and Angelica root.

You might expect the result to be one heck of a mess, but it’s really not. Sure, it’s tricky to pick out the individual scents purely because of the number of botanicals in there – but then, that could be down to my inexperience in the field of gin. Either way, I can tell you that it all comes together to create a lovely, sweet, gin with lots of juniper berry and lashings of citrus. I’ve never before enjoyed drinking a gin neat, but I honest to the man above did with The Botanist. As for mixing it with tonic, I did try that as well, and it was yummy as anything – I didn’t add any fruit, though, as I can’t see it adding much. The gin already has a lovely citrus flavor to it, and I don’t think adding a wedge of lime or lemon would really do much to improve it.

According to the tour guide at the Bruichladdich distillery, the Botanist is currently outselling their whisky 3 to 1.

About Whisky Critic

My name is Martin and I live in Scotland. I love fine things in life, such as gourmet food, travelling around the world and, last but not least, whisky (naturally, I’m partial to a tipple of whiskey or bourbon as well). I have tasted hundreds of whiskies during the recent years and I finally decided to share my experience.

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  1. Ryan

    March 23, 2012 at 11:43 am

    Nice timing that you should review this. I saw it around and was seriously considering buying it, even though I don’t drink gin at all. Would you consider buying it in lieu of a bottle of whisky?

    • Jordan

      March 26, 2012 at 4:00 am

      If you ever get a chance to try some, Rogue Distillery’s Pink Spruce Gin is top notch as a sipper. They age it in used Pinot Noir barrels for a little while, which adds a really nice fruity layer on top of the usual gin botanicals and gives it an almost whiskey-like quality.

    • martin

      March 27, 2012 at 3:42 pm

      Hey Ryan,

      If you’re intrigued by gin, I definitely would. A cool G&T is perfect for the summer, and I personally find that the Botanist is equally well suited in a G&T as it is to drinking neat. I really like it, and it’s not too expensive. In fact, I’m going to go make myself one right this minute.

      If you end up buying it I’d love to hear your thoughts!

  2. E Laurie

    April 27, 2012 at 9:12 pm

    Having visited Islay in April 2012, I was surprised to find gin on the famous whisky isle. I have to say it is the nicest gin I have tasted. Only wish I had purchased more than one bottle! I would recommend it to both gin and non-gin drinkers. It is truly delicious and a pleasure on the tastebuds. If you see a bottle on sale, buy it. You will not regret it. Cheers x

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