In this age of gin proliferation, it’s difficult to stay brand faithful. The attempt—or should we say desire?—to try all those new contenders takes up so much share-of-mouth that there’s little space or time left for one gin to dominate the discussion.
The Botanist Islay Dry Gin defies the odds, overcomes the obstacles, and counters the competitors, continually reasserting itself as a gin to be reckoned with. Among the many, many iterations of gin out there, it constantly rises to the top, battling through the sometimes bewildering onslaught of new brands to become a familiar constant in this fickle world of favorites.
The Botanist is a fanciful creation from one of the more dynamic—and let’s face it, obsessed—distillers of Bruichladdich whisky on the fabled isle of Islay off the rugged coast of western Scotland. Their brine-soaked and peat-smoked single malt scotches are legendary in their own right, and they apply the same philosophy of “go big or go home’ to the creation of their gin.
If you subscribe to the “more is good; even more is better” approach to botanical additions to gin, you’ll feel right at home with The Botanist’s comforting dream of 31 botanicals. They use 9 barks, berries, peels, seeds and roots ( the required juniper, cassia, lemon and orange peel, angelica root, orris root, coriander, cinnamon and liquorice) for what they call the “bass notes”, with a staggering 22 locally foraged botanicals from around the small, rugged, storm-scourged island.
There is a large controversy, however, among the cognoscenti—we’ll call the other side the “too many cooks”, as in spoiling the broth—that overloading gin with too many botanicals muddies the issue of botanical clarity.
The Botanist makes the best possible refutation to the counter-argument by tasting good.
Although it is unlikely you will ever recognize all the botanicals in the mix, the overall effect is wonderfully complex and forceful, while retaining the teasing, subtle hints and nuances of fruit, floral, herb and earth that make it maddeningly sophisticated.
And if you are wondering what those botanicals are, Bruichladdich has made it simple: with their new bottle design, you can laboriously trace out the ingredients, because they are imprinted in the mold of their new bottle! How’s that for branding toward your strength?
No matter the controversy; the proof is always in the performance. The Botanist performs magnificently, combining powerful force with beguiling complexity.
Put The Botanist in a classic Negroni with equal parts Campari and Cocchi Vermouth di Torino and it stuns. The gin holds its own against the other two highly assertive ingredients, maintaining its identity by playing well against the aperitif partners.
Use The Botanist in a classic Last Word—gin, sour, Chartreuse, and Luxardo Maraschino—and you may have the best version of that cocktail you’ll ever enjoy. Again, The Botanist effortlessly maintains a clear identity without nudging the other elements offstage, and it plays against those elements generously, with the Luxardo bringing forth a delightful fruit perspective that counters the acidic tart sour and the bold herbal gin, and the Chartreuse singing along in splendid herbal harmony.
Use The Botanist in a dry martini, preferably with Dolin Dry Vermouth de Chambery, and you have a bold declaration of aromatic flavor in a coupe glass. The two are perfectly companionable in their icy partnership, and the cocktail shows off the force—but never the brute force— of botanical profusion at the core of the gin.
So by all means try the other gins. Because having those other experiences can be rewarding and instructive, but you know you’ll be back to The Botanist after your wanderlust