Botanist Islay Dry Gin Review Endorsement

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Welcome to The Esquire Endorsement. Heavily researched. Thoroughly vetted. These picks are the best way to spend your hard-earned cash.


You may find yourself staring at the wall of gins in a liquor store and think: are any of these good? I’ve tried most of them. Many are wonderful. But most are perhaps too off-kilter to want to go to time and time again on one end, and on the other, maybe just a bit too simple and boring to keep around the house if you take your cocktails seriously.

But occasionally, you come across one that is as special as it is versatile. The equivalent of that tailored suit you can wear practically every day and yet still get compliments. That’s what The Botanist is. And that’s why I always have a bottle in regular rotation in my home bar.

Timothy Mulcare

It’s From Islay

Yep, that Islay! Created in 2011, The Botanist is made at the Bruichladdich distillery which produces some of my all time favorite scotches, including their Islay Barley bottling, which is made entirely of barley harvested on the little island off the western coast of Scotland. While Bruichladdich and other Islay scotches are generally known for their sea-swept peatiness, The Botanist does not have those characteristics. What it does have, is the terroir of Islay in every glass. It’s right there on the bottle, 22 wild botanicals that are foraged on the island between the months of March and October for optimum flavor. The result is something complex, yet elegant. Smooth, yet distinctive. It’s not the typical juniper bomb, yet the key ingredient doesn’t take a back seat and make you wonder whether this is a gin at all. It is delightfully floral as a proper gin should be.

the botanist gin

Timothy Mulcare

It’ll Make You Want to Experiment

The bottle is a stunner, but it’s also a kind of guide for chef-like experimentation. Etched in their latin names are all 22 of the botanicals. The gin plays very nicely with thymus vulgaris (yep, thyme) in a gin and tonic. It works wonderfully with a sweet, floral chamomile tea–try making a chamomile syrup for use in a tom collins. You could play with spearmint as a garnish in a gin sour. If you stare lovingly at the herb section of your local Whole Foods, this is the gin for you. But don’t fret: if you just want to make a standard negroni or G+T, you’ll get a very exceptional negroini ot G+T.

the botanist gin

Timothy Mulcare

But it’s Really All About the Martini

Honestly, The Botanist is best in a martini. At a generous ABV of 46%, it’s just high enough to give the classic cocktail that sublime bite as long as you don’t over dilute it. You know the deal: don’t shake it, and don’t stir it for an eternity. It will work well in a 50/50 (1 part gin, to 1 part dry vermouth) but my favorite way to make it is with a scant amount of vermouth that probably amounts to something like a 9 to 1 ratio. You might be thinking, why not just have it over ice? And, yes, sometimes I do that. It’s not a martini, no. But I assure you, it’s a very proper drink.

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