Botanical Gardens

Gin that goes beyond the juniper

Since its inception, gin has been known for its relationship with juniper, the botanical that provides its characteristic flavor.

But like the teenager who dyes her hair and gets tattoos when she leaves home, gin is trying on a new reputation, thanks to increasingly adventurous botanical combinations that relieve juniper of its heavy lifting task. We can only expect that the trend will continue as increased foraging practices unearth new ingredients to add to the still. Here are a few botanical trailblazers:

Caorunn ($37): This gin from the Scottish highlands builds on the list of traditional botanicals with five additional tongue-twisting ingredients. Fighting juniper for its prime spot are rowan berry, bog myrtle, heather, dandelion and Coul Blush apple (click here to buy).

St. George ($33): Ever the experimenters, this team of distillers in Alameda, California, has just released a trio of gins, each with its own distinct profile. The Mt. Tam edition, Terroir gin, capitalizes on wild Douglas fir, as well as other locally procured flora including coastal sage and California bay laurel (click here to buy).

The Botanist ($36): Jim McEwan, master distiller at famed Scotch whisky distillery Bruichladdich, enlisted the help of two retired botanists to collect dozens of indigenous botanicals for his first attempt at gin. Named in their honor, the forthcoming spirit is what McEwan calls "an olfactory aurora borealis" (click here to buy).