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The Botanist - Now Also a Gin For Whisky Drinkers

Updated: May 30


The Botanist aged gins

Image by Whisky Foundation / The Botanist Gin


Bruichladdich distillery, also known as 'progressive Hebridean distillers', is by no means new to making gin. The Botanist has been a favourite among gin lovers since its launch in 2011, and it is among the world's top 10 best-selling gins. However, the brand has been keeping a secret from the public: it has been experimenting with cask-aged gins since its inception.


After years of experimentation and perfecting their recipe, Bruichladdich distillery has launched two new premium barrel-aged gins. These new products - unwillingly or intentionally - blur the line between gin and whisky.


Let's explore!



 

The New Bottlings


The Bruichladdich distillery is known for bottling all its whisky as single malts, available in three distinctive levels of peatiness - from unpeated to extremely heavily peated. Expanding its expertise in cask ageing to its gins was an obvious choice for the distillery.


In fact, the distillery gave a snippet into what they were up to in 2021. During the Islay Festival, Feis Ile 2021, The Botanist released a limited single cask aged gin expression to celebrate its 10th anniversary. The gin was laid in a French red wine cask in 2011 and aged around 10 years - making it one of the oldest aged gin expressions on the market. Only 418 350ml bottles were produced for this limited edition release.


The Botanist aged gin Feis Ile 2021 release

Image by Whisky Auctioneer


Although gin has been stored in casks since the 1600s, ageing gin is a relatively new practice in modern spirits. The first of its kind hit the market in 2008, introduced by Citadelle in Europe and Ransom Spirits in the US. The introduction of cask-aged gin is so new that there are no regulations or classifications regarding most aspects, including the minimum age. To add definition to this emerging category, The Botanist has chosen to refer to their two new gins as 'Rested' and 'Aged', inspired by tequila classifications.


The Botanist gin Adam Hannett

Image by Words of Whisky - Adam Hannett


Master distiller Adam Hannett created The Botanist's new bottlings to look beyond gin's boundaries and expectations. Hannett wanted to make a complex yet balanced dry spirit representing the Scottish island where it is crafted. With innovation in mind, Hannett was spoiled by choice, having the distillery's 300 cask types to experiment with, including red wine and sherry casks.



The Botanist Islay Cask Rested Gin is a cuvée of spirits aged in approximately 16 different cask types, including red wine, bourbon, and sherry from various regions. It is then rested in Bruichladdich’s warehouse for at least six months. The Botanist Islay Cask Aged Gin is a cuvée of around six different cask types, including rum and sauterne from various regions, and is aged for at least three years. Both expressions are recommended to be consumed on their own as sipping gins.


Although the gins are currently available for purchase on the company website in the UK, both expressions will debut in the US in February 2024, with the older version being exclusively reserved for the on-trade market.


The Botanist aged and rested gins

Image of bottles by The Botanist


But what sets The Botanist gins apart from other cask-aged gins in the market? The minimum age for 'Aged' gin is three years, which is quite unusual for gins not only in Scotland but globally as well. From the Swedish Horno's aged gin, which is aged for 30 days, to the Scottish Linlithgow's LinGin, aged for 17 months in ex-Benrinnes whisky casks, The Botanist by Bruichladdich is closer to the age of some Dutch Oude Genevers, which can currently be found on the market as 12 months to 23 years old. According to many gin producers, three months in a barrel will be more than enough to round the corners of the spirit.


The Botanist has set a new precedent in aged gins by introducing cuvées. Bruichladdich is innovating gin blending by combining spirits aged in separate casks and cask types in a previously unseen way. Although brands like Finnish Kyro and New Zealand's Dancing Sands have experimented with combining barrels before, Bruichladdich has taken the idea of blending gin to a new level.



Is it still accurate to refer to the spirit as gin when it is three years old? According to the producer, the expression offers 'notes of dried fruit and toasted oats, rendered by time in wood, married with fragrant botanicals. The result is a gin that defies convention'. This would suggest that the 'Aged' variety may not possess the characteristics that classify it as gin.


However, due to its neutral base spirit and a blend of 22 botanicals that emphasise juniper, it also fails to meet the criteria for being classified as either whisky or genever. This leaves the expression in a state of limbo between the three classified spirits - ultimately creating its own category. One might find it more suitable for their palate, particularly those who enjoy aged spirits like whisky.

 

Thank you for reading The Whisky Ardvark! Please make sure to check out some of our other informative articles listed below.



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