The Island Gin That Was Inspired By Charles Darwin's Discoveries

Since we can remember, gin has enjoyed a worldwide drinking audience. First invented in Holland and adopted and taken in by Scotland (the birthplace of Hendrick's Gin), this liquor shows no signs of slowing down. It's even found a home in such far-flung places as the Falkland Islands, more popularly known as the geography where Charles Darwin made much of his revolutionary — or rather, evolutionary — discoveries.

Gin's popularity is due in part because of how flexible its formula is. Gin is a neutral spirit akin to a canvas, allowing for the distiller's creativity to run wild. This liquor can be anything you want it to be as long as the foundational botanical is juniper, a berry from the cypress family (via Difford's Guide). After that, it comes down to selecting a harmonious blend of herbs, nuts, peels, roots, spices, berries, fruits, barks, and other such natural components, often influenced by what local ingredients are readily available in the producer's terroir.

Enter Falkland Islands Distillery, a facility that boasts an environment with some unique and exotic botanicals. Gin made here has a distinct flavor profile, allowing you to take in the landscape in liquid form. Nestled between beautifully rugged Patagonia and Antarctica, the Falkland Islands are made up of over 700 islands surrounded by the Southern Atlantic Ocean.

Unique and exotic botanicals

Generally, a gin's recipe list isn't public knowledge. Producers and distillers consider the distillation and infusion process an art and keep their proprietary formulas close to the chest. We do, however, get some hints as to the local flare of a particular gin, signaling its intended flavor profile. Darwin's Botanicals, Falkland Islands Distillery's flagship gin, features teaberries, diddle-bee berries, scurvy grass, and, of course, the necessary juniper berries, lending it a balance of sweet, bittersweet, and citrusy notes. Company founder Richard McKee explains to Food & Wine that he handpicks the drink's ingredients, much like how Charles Darwin collected some of these botanicals himself on these very same islands.

A gin like Darwin's Botanicals, which was thoughtfully concocted and designed with equal parts history, flavor, and harvest, should be drunk just as thoughtfully. That doesn't necessarily mean "neat" is the preferred format — although, that would be one way to introduce the pure flavors of the Falklands to your palate.

Going with your intuition — or something simple and straightforward that highlights the gin — is probably your best bet. Think tonic water for a classic gin & tonic or a whiskey rock to resemble fresh glacial ice. Even so, there's nothing wrong with a little experimentation. If you're up for the challenge, botanical-heavy gins can in fact make for a great backbone to an array of the best gin cocktails. Just make sure you're taking into account the floral, peppery-tasting notes that are already inherent in the spirit.