Spirit Review: Botanist Gin and the Classic Gin Martini

With 22 botanicals, The Botanist gin is a class unto itself.

Everyone who knows me knows I like gin. It was the first spirit I really got into when I started learning about cocktails.

Now you’re just as likely seeing me with a glass of scotch or rye in my hand as you are to see me with a gin-based cocktail.

But I still love gin.

Yet I’m torn by how to talk about gin. Sure, there’s something floral about it, but there’s also something sweet as well as savory.

And The Botanist gin has all of it. In spades.

The Botanist Gin Spirit

Hendrick’s is a great gin, and it’s hard to compare with it, but The Botanist is a completely different animal. With Hendrick’s, you get the rose and cucumber on top of everything. With Botanist, you don’t get anything on top. It’s all swirling together, kind of like hearing a symphony and not being able to pick out a particular instrument. If you try really hard, you think you hear the cello, but ideally, you let it all flow together and enjoy what the conductor has created.

Yeah, Botanist is like that. A symphony in your mouth.

They use tons of stuff in it, too. Well, at least 22 botanicals, all local to Islay, where they make the stuff. Yep, this, like Hendrick’s, is made in scotch territory.

What do they use in it? You name it. There’s apple mint, sweet chamomile, creeping thistle, downy birch, elder, gorse (whin), hawthorn, heather, juniper, lady’s bedstraw, lemon balm, meadowseet, mugwort, red clover, spear mint, sweet cicely, bog myrtle (sweet gale), tansy, water mint, white clover, wild thyme, wood sage.

A botanist’s dream. Or nightmare.

If you let me try it and ask me to pick out the mint, I would be convinced I was tasting it (no, really, I think I do taste mint). Or thyme. Or juniper. Yep, I think they’re all there, but I have to isolate those flavors and convince myself that I’m tasting it. Sometimes I manage to fool even myself.

But mugwort? What the hell is that and what does it taste like? Heck, is it even edible?

Who cares? It makes a damn fine scotch. I mean, gin. See, I’m not used to talking about gin this way. Sheesh.

The Botanist in a Cocktail

How to showcase the Botanist? You could go for the Foraged Seaweed Martini if you lived near the ocean, or you could, well, just make the best damn martini you’ve ever had.

Go classic here.

Mix with ice

  • 2 1/4 oz Botanist gin
  • 1 oz Dolin dry vermouth
  • 3 dashes orange bitters

strain into a chilled glass, add a lemon rind swathed around the edge of the glass, spritzed on top, and then dropped in.

It’s like I’m back in the forest foraging for wild mushrooms to make my own ragu.

Screw it, I’m really just drinking a really freaking swank martini. And that’s all I need.

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