The Botanist Islay Dry Gin {and The Cocchi 50 cocktail}

Every aspect of The Botanist Islay Dry Gin from the Bruichladdich Distillery fosters a sense of exploration. Its packaging, concept,  name, color, smell, taste, and mood all exhibit the offerings of a whimsical and versatile science of the island’s flora. A clean palate from which to draw worlds. However, this gin truly shines when used as the base in a number of classic cocktails and this stiff appetite primer, the Cocchi 50. But that comes later. First, a brief look at this enigmatic gin from the Scottish Isle of Islay.

botanist islay dry gin

In addition to gin’s 9 classic botanicals (angelica root, cassia bark, cinnamon bark, coriander seed, juniper berries, lemon peel, licorice root, orange peel, and orris root) The Botanist boasts an impressive 22 additional leaves, flowers, and berries all foraged from the surrounding terroir. These are added after the initial distillation to provide a unique, perplexing, and deeply pleasurable aroma to this well-balanced gin. The addition of this challenging array of esoteric botanicals, some familiar (birch leaves, lemon balm, thyme, and peppermint) and some completely baffling (sweet cicely, bog myrtle, gorse flowers, lady’s bedstraw, and mugwort leaves), makes for a delightful and pleasantly pure drinking experience.

botanist islay dry gin cocktail

While most London Dry style gins position the juniper berries center stage, and most American styles emphasize the citrus notes, The Botanist lands on some very comfortable and stable middle ground. Complex and smooth enough to drink on its own, but versatile, surprising, and supple enough to use as a base in any number of gin-based libations to demonstrate its multiple faces: bitter, sweet, spicy, sour.

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Though hard to identify each element individually, taken as a whole, Botanist Islay Dry Gin is clean, crisp, and wildly versatile. The myriad botanicals come to the fore when allowed to mix and mingle with other mixers. In a gin and tonic, the citrus dominates, but when mixed with an apertivo, as in this cocktail, the bittersweet shines through, especially the anise notes. Overall, this gin furnishes an experience if you let it. Its quicksilver purity and silky body contains the full spectrum of what gin can be.

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Most of these botanicals I’ve never tasted before, but those I do recognize seem to pop when placed in the right context. The following cocktail, The Cocchi 50, is intended to bring the gin’s anise flavors to the fore, and the addition of grapefruit (anise and grapefruit being one of my favorite combinations) brightens everything up and gives this slick sipper a nice citrusy snap.

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The Cocchi 50, a gin and apertivo cocktail
This is a spin on the 50/50 cocktail, which puts gin and dry vermouth together in equal proportions and shakes in a few dashes of orange bitters. The botanicals in Cocchi Americano and The Botanist gin banter well here especially when tied together with Bittermen's Hopped Grapefruit Bitters, a cleansing absinthe rinse, and a large piece of grapefruit peel. A delicious apertif. Salut!
  • 1.5 ounces The Botanist Islay Dry Gin
  • 1.5 ounces Cocchi Americano
  • Dash of Bittermen's Hopped Grapefruit Bitters
  • Grapefruit peel for garnish
  • Splash of absinthe to rinse glass with
  1. Place The Botanist gin and the Cocchi in a mixing glass.
  2. Add bitters.
  3. Fill to ⅔ with ice.
  4. Str for about 15 seconds.
  5. Strain into a chilled absinthe-rinsed cocktail glass.
  6. Garnish with large grapefruit peel making sure to express the oils over the surface of the drink.

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Nicholas Stanton

Bartender/Sales Associate at Craft Wine & Beer
I am strongly rooted in the Reno community. I believe in radically local ethics and the consumer support of micro communities. A large component of this is in the arts to express our realities, outdoor activities to encourage health and a deep care for the environment and food and drink culture to support local producers, farmers, and businesses. When I'm not geeking out and purveying new and exciting products at Craft Wine & Beer, I can be found cycling around town, reading literature of the Americas and dense philosophy and critical theory. Oh yeah, and keeping my two neurotic Border Collies entertained.
Filed under: Spirit Reviews
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