On a dark wintery Thursday I found myself heading to Mr Fogg’s Tavern on St Martens lane, a well themed tavern, based on the explorer Phileus Fogg himself.
The evening was all about a new spirit I discovered, known as the Botanist Gin. Being a dedicated whiskey fan, I was fully introduced to the joys of gin by a close friend last year. Since trying out a few and attending a few spirit shows, the love for gin drinks has blossomed into a new favourite.
One of the best things worth knowing about the Botanist gin is that it’s the first and only Islay dry gin around, making everything about its look and flavour that much more unique.
If you’re not quite sure why I made such a big point about the Botanist gin being the first and only of its kind to come from Islay, here’s a little history lesson for you. The Isle of Islay is in the southernmost region of Scottish isles and notoriously known for its malt whiskey distillation.
There are 22 hand foraged botanicals that are locally sourced, consisting of nine berries, barks, seeds and peels. All of this foraged goodness is then put through a very slow, but well loved distillation process. The slowness in the distillation is the entire philosophy and passion of the Botanist that gives it the strength to stand out. The result is an end product that stands out from the other gins.
The body of the Botanist gin is the important part from a point of view of taste. It has a satin smooth finish that slides over the palate like a silk scarf running across the skin. Because I’m a lover of a neat drink, my first tasting of the Botanist had to be done that way.
For anyone that knows the art to a drink, the aroma you pick up from anything is essential to how your palate will perceive its taste. My initial intake of the aroma sent my senses into a state of blissful calm. What I got from it was the smell of berries and flowers, followed by a fresh zest. Imagine the great smell of a beautiful summer, a smell I can imagine frequently lingers in the Islay isle.
Taste is the next vital step to everything and what a step in this experience this is. With the Botanist you’ll find a rich, cool mellow taste upon entry, followed by the gentle warmth hitting the back of your palate. Like I said earlier try this neat and you will understand what I mean.
With flavour exploration at its heart, the incentive builds upon The Botanist’s heritage by encouraging discovery and experimentation among the UK’s most skillful, innovative mixologists.
At the end of the experiment the winning bartender was gifted with the botanist infuser for 31 days, to continue creating imaginative syrups and infused liquids. Quite gutted i couldn’t be a part of this excitement, as the winner also had the great opportunity to enter the realm of foraging, with a journey to Botanists homeland of Islay.
In the end it was Nikolett Macza from Nightjar won with her “Druid’s Botanist Cup” – made using The Botanist Gin infused with mahonia flowers and rowan berries, Caol Islay whisky, Unicum Plum liqueur, damson jam, conifer bitters, bee pollen and lemon. The cocktail was presented in a pine cup and garnished with frankincense ‘holy smoke’