“There are many attributes we share with our distant Gaelic forefathers: stubborn, resolute, self-sufficient, tough, hard working, emotional, philosophical and engaging… Perhaps with a certain roguish quality.
We believe in innovation and progress, in constantly striving to produce a spirit with integrity and provenance. A spirit to put a smile on your face wherever you are, and to help you close your eyes and quietly dream of Islay.”
Jim McEwan, Master Distiller, House of Bruichladdich
I’ve been an alcohol professional long enough to know that Islay means extremely peated (smoky) Scotch.
Islay, to me, has never been about perfectly clean, crisp dry gin…
As Jim McEwan stated, one of the beautiful things about the indomitable spirit of Islay is the irrepressible belief in innovation… And the latest innovation courtesy of their beautiful region is the Botanist Gin, courtesy of the same people that made Bruichladdich (a gentle, floral antithesis to the typical Islay scotch), Port Charlotte, and Octomore (the world’s most peated whisky).
The gin came about when two residents of Islay, Dr. Richard and Mrs. Mavis Gulliver (botanists by profession), met Jim McEwan and introduced him to “40 herbs, leaves, and fauna that can be sustainably foraged” on Islay. Amongst these, Jim chose 22 that are now part of the recipe (and the label): Apple Mint, Chamomile, Creeping Thistle, Downy Birch, Elder, Gorse (Whin), Hawthorn, Heather, Juniper, Lady’s Bedstraw, Lemon Balm, Meadowsweet, Mugwort, Red Clover, Spearmint, Sweet Cicely, Bog Myrtle (Sweet Gale), Tansy, Water Mint, White Clover, Wild Thyme, and Wood Sage.
The process of preparation for each distillation is meticulous… The schedule for handpicking the botanicals varies each season (depending on the climate). They also take great care of the environment as they pick. The type of juniper berries (the main ingredient of gin) that they use is one that is extremely rare and can only be found in Islay.
The result is a critically acclaimed satin-smooth, crisp, refreshing, “quicksilver” coloured gin, with delicate notes of sweet menthol, woodlands, coriander, anise, citrus fruits, honey, and coconut.
Personally, I like drinking Botanist Gin as part of a classic Gin and Tonic cocktail:
Botanist Gin and Cocktail
1 part Botanist Gin
2 parts Fever-Tree Tonic Water (I find this tonic water’s level of quinine very subtle, so it doesn’t overpower the delicate notes of Botanist)
1 slice of lemon
In a balloon/Burdgundy wine glass, put ice, gin, and tonic water. Put the lemon slice. Stir gently and serve.
For those in Manila who would like to make their own Botanist Gin and Tonic cocktail, Botanist Gin is available in S&R branches. I know I’m excited to make some for my friends (So many people sent me excited messages the when they saw the photos on our Instagram account).
Let us know how it goes. Cheers!
Special thanks to Mr. Jun Regalado and Mr. Sunny Ku of Masterminds Asia
Even the words Scotch Whisky conjure up visions of mountains, coastline, remote islands, lochs, moors, tales by the fire and the pride and poems of Robert Burns. On the other side, images of Mother s Ruin and Hogarth s Gin Lane paint a somewhat drearier picture of our historical entanglement with gin.