Review: The Botanist Brings Whisky Ideals to the Gin World

Bruichladdich’s new Cask Matured Series introduces barrel aging to its gin

February 28, 2024 4:00 pm
The new Cask Matured Series of gins from The Botanist
Can gins take on whisky character if they age in barrels? The Botanist is experimenting with the premise.

What we’re drinking: The Botanist Islay Cask Matured Gin Series

Where it’s from: As the name implies, these two new gins hail from the Islay distillery Bruichladdich. Revived in 2001, Bruichladdich is located on the southernmost end of western Scotland’s Hebridean Archipelago. The B Corp Certified distillery, which primarily focuses on whisky (including our annual smoky favorite Octomore) produces everything with 100% Scottish barley and Islay spring water.

Why we’re drinking this: The two new gins here — Islay Cask Rested and Islay Cask Aged — arrive just over 10 years after Bruichladdich released The Botanist Islay Dry Gin. Each one showcases The Botanists’s 22 hand-foraged Islay botanicals but now with the extra addition of time in a barrel. So, how does a whisky brand approach a gin

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“We’ve been working aging gin since we started making gin”, says Head Distiller Adam Hannett. “Interestingly, coming from a whisky background, there’s all kinds of regulation and structure with that. With aged gin, there isn’t.” 

As Hannett notes, aged gin isn’t much of a category at the moment, though it seems to be growing. For the Rested and Aged releases, Bruichladdich utilized multiple cask types in each release. And time, of course, played a factor. “The Aged release gets taken into a different space — it’s like a brown spirit,” he says. “At a young age, the gin notes are prominent. But over time, it does behave like a whisky. It becomes a sipping spirit. And it turns out juniper works really well with oak.”

The two new releases use the exact same formulation as their core Botanist gin release. Let’s check them out.

How they taste: Both of these releases come in at 46% ABV. 

  • The Botanist Islay Cask Rested: Aged for more than six months in a blend of 15+ American and European oak casks, you’ll find plenty of red fruit here along with apricot and sandalwood. It’s fruity, creamy, soft, floral and the juniper doesn’t punch you in the nose but rather expresses itself nicely after a few sips. It’s still gin but more rounded.
  • The Botanist Islay Cask Aged: Matured for more than three years in a blend of more than eight American and European oak casks, the wood influence is more prevalent here, and there’s certainly a bit of vanilla sweetness along with a lovely grilled pineapple note. It’s wonderfully balanced between a gin and a brown spirit.
The new packaging for Bruichladdich's Luxury Redefined series
The new packaging for Bruichladdich’s Luxury Redefined series

Fun fact: This would be a good time to note that Bruichladdich also recently released Eighteen and Thirty, age-statement whisky expressions that are part of the distillery’s new Luxury Redefined Series (the Thirty features liquid from before the distillery relaunched in 2001). Both releases arrive in eco-friendly “Colourform” packaging, which is made from compostable paper pulp and molded to the shape of the bottle. 

It’s a slight pivot for the brand, which hasn’t done much with age statements for a reason. “We haven’t been able to lead with age statements because the stock wasn’t there,” Hannett says. “But we still believe the age doesn’t determine if the whisky is good or bad; it’s why we don’t lead with a numeric ‘18’ but the word eighteen.”

The Eighteen was aged in primarily ex-bourbon casks and a few ex-wine casks. It has plenty of oak spice but also butterscotch and tropical notes. The Thirty is all ex-bourbon, and the vanilla, honey and toasted oak notes take to the forefront with a nice note of cocoa on the finish.

Where to buy: You can buy The Botanist Islay Cask Rested ($49.99) and the Islay Cask Aged bottle ($79.99) here


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