Need a drink to counter the summer heat? Ong Chin Huat gets a first-hand taste of The Botanist gin, an aromatic concoction of 22 botanicals all hand-foraged on the Isle of Islay.
Hailing from the wilds of Islay, an island located in the southernmost part of the Inner Hebrides of Scotland, The Botanist Gin is a godsend during the hot and humid summer months and with so many options available on how to utilise it in cocktails and drinks, its versatility wins it kudos among the thirsty.
Setting itself apart from other gins, The Botanist is a unique concoction of 31 botanicals and herbs, 22 of which are handpicked and foraged sustainably on the Isle of Islay itself. Grown at different parts of Islay and blooming at different times of the year, this exercise of hand-foraging is almost an art form.
For instance, young Birch leaves are foraged in March to optimise their nutty flavour whilst the soft flavour of anise from Sweet Cicely are plucked in May. In June, Water Mint and Wood Sage give out their best while come August, the strong taste of Tansy and Chamomile are ripe for picking. The honeyed undertones of Heather are best harvested in late summer.
Master Distiller Jim McEwan of Hebridean distillers Bruichladdich claims credit for being the man who conceptualised and created this aromatic elixir. Deviating from the norm and not sticking to convention, McEwan was resolute in his determination to put a slice of Islay into one of the most popular drinks – the G&T or gin and tonic.
“We have always believed in innovation and progress and being unafraid to do things differently,” says McEwan. “We had no prior experience with gin but we were passionate and stubborn, just like our Gaelic forefathers…. we created a progressive, carefree spirit that delivers the magical melody of Islay in a sip.”
Layered and complex the melange of herbs and flowers in The Botanist creates a bouquet which is a symphony for the senses. From zesty citrus and warm vanilla, The Botanist Gin unleashes a subtle explosive of flavour on your palate cooling you down or warming you up, whatever your proclivities might be.
The secret for their aromatic and delicate piquancy? That lies in the distillation process which is a careful and measured exercise where the precious botanicals are slowly and gently processed to release their complex aroma in The Botanist’s unique and special Lomond pot-still.
For the official launch of The Botanist Gin in Malaysia, a relaxing and leisurely day trip was organised to A Little Farm on the Hill, an organic farm-to-table dining experience located in Janda Baik, a nature reserve on the fringes of a tropical rainforest in the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for a select group of VIPs and the media. Upon arrival, the guests were greeted with a refreshing cocktail featuring The Botanist called “If Collins Was Vegan” and after a delicious home-cooked lunch, everyone partook in a foraging party to pick out organic herbs and plants which was used later in a cocktail competition.
Chloe Wood, the youngest-ever Brand Ambassador for The Botanist in Asia-Pacific was present to explain more about The Botanist Gin and guide the guests on the different ways to use this spirit. “Malaysia used to be a haven for foraging with an abundance of natural herbs and spices – frequently used for Chinese medicine. With ‘The Botanist’ coming to Malaysia, hopefully, local bartenders and consumers will be inspired to source for local ingredients and being creative with the way they garnish and serve their drinks.”