The Whisky Exchange

of the Year

Our expertise is far from being solely whisky. So when we decided to select a Whisky of the Year we knew it would be wrong not to accompany this with a Spirit of the Year.

We could go as far as saying the products selected for Best Spirit of the Year which include Rum, Vodka, Gin & Liqueur could actually be considered some of the Best Spirits in the World!

Surprisingly there was a lot of consensus amongst our team as to our top spirits, bringing in opinions from across the company, from customer facing staff to those behind our award-winning website. In the end we narrowed the choice down to eight fine spirits from the four corners of the world, across a wider range of drinks.

As with any competition based on flavour, this is just our opinion. Everyone will have their own favourite, with every palate its own judge. We hope you enjoy our choice.


The Botanist Islay Dry Gin

The Botanist
Islay Dry Gin

70cl / 46%

Made at Bruichladdich distillery on Islay, this is very much a gin with a difference. Combining depth of flavour with the distillation know-how of Jim McEwan, the experienced master distiller of Bruichladdich, this stands apart from other gins currently available.

Released in 2011 and slowly building in popularity since, it has moved from being a secret known amongst whisky and gin connoisseurs to a widely loved spirit, often seen in bars around the world. It was by far and away the top selection amongst our panel, and is a worthy winner – it is one of the best gins in the world.



by Jim McEwan, Distiller

  • Colour Quicksilver.
  • Body The spirit is satin smooth gliding over the palate like no gin you have ever tried before. A totally seductive experience.
  • Nose The aromas explode like an olfactory aurora borealis filling the senses with meteorites of smell sensations as they explode from the glass. Sweet delicate menthol, apple mint, spring woodlands, juniper, coriander with aniseed undertones, lemon and orange peel, a bouquet of summer flowers on the machir, honey from thistle, coconut from gorse, wild mint and summer meadows. It’s a magical melody of Islay’s natural bounty from the atlantic washed beaches to the summit of heather covered hills. Inhale and you’re there on the Queen of the Hebrides!
  • Palate The taste is rich and mellow; cool on entry then as it reaches the back palate you can feel the warmth and absolute purity of slow unhurried distillation. This is a bewitching, delectable and luxurious gin; its citrus freshness excites and stimulates the taste buds allowing you to experience a starburst of flavours as they explode across the palate.
  • Finish All this from a beaten up old pot still, operated by beaten up distillers on the coast of heaven.
  • Mood Carefree. The electric buzz of illicit anticipation.
Bruichladdich Distillery


Bruichladdich Distillery may have been established in the 1880s, but it has been reborn in the 21st century. After years of closure it reopened in 2001 with industry veteran Jim McEwan as master distiller and a new chapter has opened in their story.

Known for their experimental spirit, they have produced hundreds of expressions over the years since the reopening. While many of these used whisky maturing in their warehouses that had been laid down by previous owners, 2011 was a milestone in the distillery’s recent history – the launch of a ten year old whisky distilled and matured since the reopening. Along with the launch of The Botanist in the same year this showed a focus on their own spirit, which has been embraced by both the whisky and spirits community.

They have now joined with Rémy Martin and production is in full swing. Investment in the distillery continues and the future looks bright

The Gin

Key to the character of The Botanist is their still – Ugly Betty. ‘She’ is a Lomond Still, an experimental kind of distillation vessel designed to be in between a traditional pot and Coffey still in style. This ‘all things to everyone’ approach gave the distiller a large amount of versatility in the still’s use, allowing them to produce different styles of spirit. Unfortunately the experiment was not popular amongst whisky makers and the stills slowly fell silent across Scotland, until today when only a few remain.

The first Lomond Still was installed in 1956 at Inverleven distillery, closed in 2003 and since demolished. Before the walls came down the distilling equipment was removed and Bruichladdich were able to bring the Lomond still over to Islay. Lomond Stills aren’t the most attractive of devices, with author Tom Morton as describing one as “An oversized, upside-down dustbin made of copper”, and rechristened as Ugly Betty the former Inverleven still now produces The Botanist gin. With the flexibility that the still provides, Jim McEwan is able to craft the perfect distillate to give the flavour and character that defines The Botanist.


The Botanist combines classic gin flavours with the terroir led approach that is at the heart of Jim McEwan’s production philosophy. A backbone of orris, liquorice and angelica root, cassia and cinnamon bark, lemon and orange peel, coriander seed and juniper are joined by 22 locally foraged herbs and plants to create a gin that truly tastes of the island of Islay.

Hand Foraged Islay Botanicals

  • Wild Islay Juniper Wild Islay Juniper
  • Elderflower Elderflower
  • Apple Mint Apple Mint
  • Wood Sage Leaf Wood Sage Leaf
  • Bog Myrtle Bog Myrtle
  • Sweet Cicely Sweet Cicely
  • Creeping Thistle Creeping Thistle
  • Peppermint Leaf Peppermint Leaf
  • Heather Flowers Heather Flowers
  • Meadowsweet Meadowsweet
  • Water Mint Leaf Water Mint Leaf
  • Tansy Tansy
  • Hawthorn Flower Hawthorn Flower
  • Lemon Balm Lemon Balm
  • Mugwort Leaves Mugwort Leaves
  • Thyme Leaf Thyme Leaf
  • Gorse Flower Gorse Flower
  • White Clover White Clover
  • Red Clover Flower Red Clover Flower
  • Birch Leaf Birch Leaf
  • Sweet Chamomile Sweet Chamomile
  • Lady's Bedstraw Lady's Bedstraw

Core Botanicals

  • Angelica Root Angelica Root
  • Cassia Bark Cassia Bark
  • Cinnamon Bark Cinnamon Bark
  • Coriander Seed Coriander Seed
  • Juniper Berries Juniper Berries
  • Lemon Peel Lemon Peel
  • Liquorice Root Liquorice Root
  • Orange Peel Orange Peel
  • Orris Root Orris Root

The botanicals are steeped in spirit and slowly distilled to preserve their aromatic flavours. Over the 17 hours of distillation the gin slowly appears, full of flavour and complexity.

The result of this combination of tradition, experimentation, locally-sourced ingredients and careful distillation is The Botanist, a hand-crafted labour of love.