The Botanist Gin Reviewed by Honest Tom
In 2009 I was enough of a sheep to buy a ticket to “Hell on Earth”, or Reading Festival it is more commonly known. I would like to take a brief moment to defend myself at this point. Reading was (controversially) in its last days of putting on what I would term, “half decent” bands and wasn’t entirely dominated by vacuous, vanity driven, teen, clap trap, NME wank. The fact that I got to see Municipal waste perform a 20-minute version of Born to Party entirely justified the £200 ticket (seriously, Google it and ask yourself how that song could be dragged out for so long). Anyway, one of my highlights of the weekend was when I saw The Prodigy. As every electronic band knows, a “Hype Man” is integral to the live set. In the instance of The Prodigy, the Hype Man would annoyingly shout over every song in an incredibly tedious way and command the crowd to go “fucking crazy”. It doesn’t take too much to rile up a Reading crowd, and within about 3 tracks, the barrier had been torn down and the band had to stop playing. This is when things turned seriously uncool as the Hype Man came back on to silence and said “ok everybody, you need to calm down”. To this day, I believe this is still the least rock and roll thing I have ever seen. It doesn’t get much shitter than a hardened raver being terrified of 17 year-old AS level takers who have tried poppers for the first time. The point of my massively convoluted anecdote is that I often feel like that Hype Man. I try to get everyone excited about gin and then the minute that they do I end up just saying “calm the fuck down” or just screaming because I see someone mixing gin with coke (true story).
The Botanist is the Game of Thrones equivalent of gin. It is undeniably good, but I just can’t get into the hype.
So we arrive at The Botanist. A perfectly good gin. It was always going to be good, Wetherspoons serve it, and as a self-proclaimed Wetherspoons connoisseur (did you know that the each Wetherspoons establishment has a unique carpet?), I give this 2 thumbs up. The Botanist has everything that I like about a gin: it is 46% ABV; it is very clean and crisp; it is made by a head distiller who has painstakingly arrived at a perfect recipe and deeply cares about the way in which their gin is produced; there are 22 botanicals and the level of complexity is very nice; the bottle is so pretty that you would be swiftly forgiven for having sex with it. So it is a 5 out of 5 gin then? No, it is a really great product but a long way from Tanqueray or Bullard’s. The flavour intensity is not quite up to scratch for me. The gin is nice, but the burn you get from the alcohol somewhat overwhelms the flavour which forces me to say something that I may have never said previously: maybe the ABV could have been lowered. Also, there is nothing especially unique to indicate that you are definitely drinking The Botanist. Put it this way, if I was paying over £35 for a gin I would want to know the exact gin that I was drinking when I tasted it, not simply saying “oh, that’s a gin”. Say what you like about Hoxton or Brockmans (as I have), they are disgusting, but they stand out so that you know what you are drinking. The Botanist is just a bit of a plain Jane.
So why the massive anecdote about the Hype Man? Well, you would not believe the amount of people that have told me that The Botanist is their favourite gin. I have no idea how this has happened. I can only assume that it is accessibility, i.e. you can purchase it in Waitrose where it is sold at a price which suggests to consumers that this is a seriously good gin. I once got infuriated with a man who slagged off the wonderful Hayman’s Family Reserve Gin that I had served him, telling me that it was not a patch on The Botanist. I had to enquire what he liked so much about The Botanist, to which he told me “it is delicious when you mix it with pink lemonade”. I saw red, but as is hospitality, I said nothing, smiled and walked away. The man liked the taste of pink lemonade and not of gin. The Hayman’s Family Reserve was just too gin-y for his taste. There wasn’t enough saccharine in it for his liking. I have heard other people say similar things on the topic of The Botanist and also of Opihr. Leading me to the conclusion that The Botanist is probably the most over-hyped gin on the market today and I am that scared Hype Man who see the general public’s take on gin to be terrifying.
The Botanist is the Game of Thrones equivalent of gin. It is undeniably good, but I just can’t get into the hype. I spent a lot of wasted time watching season 3 to season 6 of Game of Thrones whilst being told how amazingly good it is. The truth of the matter is that TV gets better than Game of Thrones but I am always going to watch it because I need to find out what happens. This reminds me of my experience with The Botanist. I will always drink it but I will be continually angered by the overhyping of it when something like Brecon Botanicals doesn’t get the praise that it fairly deserves. The Botanist is Lord Varys, the Eunuch, a great character for entertainment purposes but the series could probably cope without him. For full disclosure, if The Botanist was a person, I think it would probably have working genitals, I base this upon nothing.
You can buy The Botanist Gin at The Whisky Exchange, DrinkSupermarket.com or on Amazon.