Mention the word Islay, and the first thing that comes to mind is that island off the South-west coast of Scotland that is famous for its smoky, peaty Scotch whiskies.

The Botanist, however, is not a whisky – it is a gin. An Islay dry gin, to be exact.

Sure, it is distilled at the Bruichladdich whisky distillery on Islay, but the gin does not taste remotely smoky or peaty at all, despite containing an impressive 31 different botanicals.

Meant to be a “progressive exploration of the botanical heritage of the isle of Islay”, these 31 botanicals range from the common “core botanicals” like juniper (found in most gins), orange and cinnamon, to the lesser-known local “island botanicals” such as downy birch, mugwort, sweet cicely, bog myrtle, and others. These botanicals were all foraged by hand by botanical scientists Dr Richard and Mavis Gulliver.

The spirit is then distilled and hand-crafted at the Bruichladdich distillery in a Lomond Still called “Ugly Betty” for an achingly slow 17 hours.

The result is a gin that is called a “botanical odyssey in a glass” – complex yet delicate at the same time, with the numerous botanicals forming a bouquet of scents and flavours in a gin that works fine on its own, and also in a cocktail or a gin and tonic. – Michael Cheang