The Botanist

Bruichladdich Botanist Bottle

$$ — 46% ABV — Elder, Thyme

Meaning "stony lee-side shore," Bruichladdich [brook-lah-dee] is one of many famous Islay distilleries. Shuttered in 1994 after a game of corporate hot potato, it was reopened in 2001 by Mark Reynier. The very famous and nearly retired Bowmore manager Jim McEwan jumped across the loch and was put in charge. While waiting for their new whisky to mature, Reynier and McEwan began looking for a way to make the distillery profitable again.

White spirits is a common solution for new whisky makers, and they decided to make a gin. Since Bruichladdich was reopened with a mission to celebrate Islay, they began looking for local botanicals they could use — and before you ask, yes, there's juniper to be found on Islay. With help of local botanists they discovered some common botanicals like thyme and apple mint, but also very unique and very Scottish botanicals like bog myrtle and creeping thistle.

Made in a modified Lomond still the makers affectionately call "Ugly Betty," the deep tones are steeped while the lighter tones are picked up in a gin head. Very uncommon for any aromatized product, Bruichladdich is happy to detail The Botanist's 9 bass tones and 22 foraged botanicals for you not just online but even on the sides of the bottle!

And it's immediately noticeable this is an unusual gin: its earthy, almost musty not unlike most Islay Scotches. Much of the floral nose, quiet on the palate, powerfully emerges when tonic or seltzer is added. For such a dry gin it's quite sweet! Not a bad thing at all. And like all Bruichladdich products, it's bottled at no less than 46%. Cheers to that.

Bruichladdich is located on Islay, Argyll & Bute in southwestern Scotland. Established in 1881 by William, John and Robert Harvey, it is now owned by Rémy Cointreau.