By Jonathan Hatchman, Food Editor, @TLE_Food
When we think of the Scottish Hebridean Island of Islay, whiskey is generally the first spirit that comes to mind. An industry which, after agriculture, provides the island’s second largest employment, boasting a grand total of nine distilleries operating from the tiny island. And although renowned for creating some of the world’s finest single malt whiskies, Bruichladdich Distillery have, in recent years, began to distil their own gin – The Botanist – joining their already strong range of spirits.
What’s most prominent about The Botanist is the amount of botanicals that are used throughout the distilling process. To begin, nine classic gin botanicals are sourced from across the world, including juniper berries, cassia bark, angelica root, coriander seed, cinnamon bark, lemon and orange peel, liquorice root and oris root. Next, a further 22 ingredients native to Islay are locally sourced and handpicked by professional foragers that roam the island in search of the produce – these include the likes of apple mint, birch leaves, lemon balm, elderflowers, peppermint leaves, white clover, and sweet chamomile. The striking blend of 31 botanicals, overall, is then placed into a low pressure Lomond pot-still – a piece of equipment that’s often used for distilling single malt whiskies – and then distilled slowly due to the low pressure, generally taking around 17 hours – which is around three times longer than the average gin distillation time.
The prettily presented gin encased within a glass cylinder bottle etched with the names of each botanical used, is crystal clear with a grand, outstandingly complex bouquet. Thanks to the sheer amount of botanicals used, the nose of the gin when served neat offers notes of almost all the ingredients, with particularly notable aromas of orange peel and floral arrangements. As for the taste, an initial bite of alcoholic potency is followed by a silky smooth warmth as the spirit hits the back of the palate, a warmth that lingers and ends with a long, clean finish. Fortunately, as can be detected from the taste, the seemingly outrageous blend of botanicals is not overpowering, nor is it unnecessary. Instead, the taste is remarkably well balanced and has a smoothness that’s rare, even with many other premium gins. In fact, in terms of smoothness and depth of flavour, The Botanist is perhaps one of the finest British gins on the market at present that’s widely available for less than £40.
Further information on The Botanist can be found at thebotanist.com.
Botanist & Tonic Cocktail Recipe
The team at The Botanist simply recommend teaming the gin with a premium tonic and a desired garnish of choice, highlighting the creative mindset of foraging at home and encouraging to use herbs picked from their own gardens to use as a garnish.