The Botanist Gin – A Wild State of Mind
January 4, 2020
By Tom Wilkinson
Riley’s cocktail guru, Tom Wilkinson, samples Bruichladdich Distillery’s new Botanist Gin. Here’s what he has to say about a recent sampling event introducing this exquisite handmade gin from the Isle of Islay Scotland…
The artisanal Botanist Gin is made with 22 foraged botanicals from the Isle of Islay in Scotland where it is distilled.
As part of the new Wild State of Mind series of short films from malt scotch whisky makers Bruichladdich Distillery, you can experience and learn about a variety of individuals as they describe how they used foraged ingredients in everything from dinner to cocktails.
In a recent tasting event held to celebrate the launch of this lovely libation, we were introduced to two fine examples of cocktails made with the gin and from ingredients foraged from this charming island environment. One was a slight twist on the gin martini, while the other was a more distinct take on the Tom Collins.
The Botanist Gin – Martini, Meet Collins…
This crisp, clear martini swapped the traditional olive garnish for seaweed. Not only does this give the cocktail a unique, ocean-like feel, but also provides that slightly salty taste to counterbalance the drink. A simple drink like this lets the gin truly come to the fore, letting you really taste the 22 botanicals that give the gin its distinctive taste.
Next up was a pineapple weed Collins. You may not have heard of this plant, which is better known as wild chamomile. This freshly gathered plant lends a delightfully savoury air to the drink. The overall result is something light that allows the botanicals to play out over your tongue – another drink that really allows you to taste and appreciate the underlying gin.
Hunter Gather Cook
Continuing from their foraging roots, The Botanist has collaborated with Nick Weston from Hunter Gather Cook who rustled up a series of paired dishes to go along with the cocktails.
His seasonal dishes are all hunted or gathered around East Sussex and you can sign up for his seasonal courses on how to prepare game (such as venison and pheasant) at two locations in the county.
Taking something some people view as a weed and turning it into a delicious snack is a perfect example of the ethos of Hunter Gather Cook. While making tempura of anything is generally an excellent way to make it tasty, it’s picking out these herbs that people are less likely to think of, and transforming them that underlies what Nick is doing.
Freshly caught fish on crispy bread helps to highlight that, just because you have caught something yourself, doesn’t mean it can’t be turned into something that would not look out of place at any dinner party. It also paired superbly with a crisp Botanist martini.
The Botanist Gin: A Great Night In
So why not pick up a bottle of The Botanist Gin and forage yourself some fresh ingredients for a unique night in? And remember: ‘Don’t munch on a hunch!’
- Who: Bruichladdich Distillery
- What: The Botanist Gin
- Where: Isle of Islay Scotland
- When: Whenever the urge strikes…
- Why: Foraged local ingredients elevate this Scottish gin to tasty new heights
- Website: thebotanist.com
Contributing Editor Tom Wilkinson makes cocktails in his spare time and podcasts about their history at Dr Wilko’s Campaign for Better Beverages. He also produces two other podcasts: Hat of Many Things, on random topics drawn from a hat and Unparliamentary Language about the state of British politics.