Gin can be a bit of a mystery to some people—what makes it a London Dry Gin, what should I look for in a gin, what else can you do with it other than a gin and tonic? Admittedly, gin is a broad spectrum that delivers everything from powerful evergreen juniper notes to a soft and delicate floral palate that rewards close attention and can easily be missed. Enter into the picture The Botanist.
This gin is carried on the storied shoulders of Scotland’s Bruichladdich Distillery on the isle of Islay (pronounced eye-luh). Masters of distillation, the minds behind Bruichladdich’s famous Scotch have turned their skills and attention to producing a clean neutral spirit to carry a staggering 31 botanicals (22 of which are native to Islay and have been hand-foraged) in a delicate balancing act. This is not an intensely juniper-rich gin (like the classic Beefeaters London Dry), but a strong example of what is called “the New International Style.” The NIS gins on the market (like another Scottish delight, Hendricks Gin) tend to balance the bright juniper notes with a bevy of other botanicals to produce a softer, more nuanced spirit. For instance, the Botanist handily lists all of its botanicals right on the bottle itself in raised glass. Careful attention will reveal some exotic additions like heather flowers, apple mint, and bog myrtle (admit it, you want to know what bog myrtle tastes like) among the rest.
This is not a gin to be diluted with heavy, syrupy tonic water (although the Fever Tree tonics are a fine choice) or drowned with too much vermouth in a martini. The botanicals need some space to breathe and show themselves in due time, so an extra- or bone-dry martini is preferable to get the most out of it. The body is floral and subtly herbaceous, so take your time with it. There is a lot of the natural character of Islay deep within this gin, and it is well worth your time to pay attention and experience it all.