The Botanist, but bolder: Creative agency Thirst adds extra strength to famous Islay gin as distillery launches first-ever Global Travel Retail exclusive offering

• Impressive new branding designed to show ‘bolder side’ of famous Islay gin for launch of 51.5% The Botanist Hebridean Strength • Creative agency Thirst uses contrast to demonstrate evolution of brand as it innovates in the Global Travel Retail market • Thirst’s bold strategy includes The Botanist Environment – an immersive experience designed to educate and inform travelling gin lovers on The Botanist’s Hebridean heritage

ISLAY distillery Bruichladdich has unveiled bold branding for its first-ever Global Travel Retail (GTR) exclusive gin, The Botanist Hebridean Strength. 

Glasgow-based creative agency Thirst, which recently reimagined the progressive distillery’s distinctive new outer-packaging-free Port Charlotte bottle, was charged with strengthening and amplifying the classic The Botanist brand for its first step into innovation – a higher-strength exclusive gin to stand out in a GTR setting.

The result is an evolution of The Botanist’s classic identity, with a deep navy in place of iconic white, underlined in a thin red line to unite the respective products, with a clean mission statement – The Bolder Side of The Botanist. 

The Botanist Hebridean Strength branding sits beneath the messaging ‘A Bold New Travellers’ Exclusive’, and is aimed at encouraging seasoned gin lovers in transit to explore the bolder side of the classic Islay Dry Gin through its new richness of flavour and increased strength offering of 51.5% ABV.

Thirst’s work on Hebridean Strength remains unmistakably The Botanist, with subtle use of botanical illustrations around the bottle neck and cap; as well as nods to provenance on the label and advertising through the Bruichladdich distillery seal and a map of Scotland with Islay’s location highlighted by that same red line. 

Thirst has worked to show a new and different side to the brand reflected in the more intense drinking experience.      

Matt Burns, creative director at Thirst, explained how the challenge was to remain  true to what’s behind The Botanist’s success – a famously balanced and delicately complex gin produced from a signature blend of 22 island botanicals – while simultaneously amplifying the bolder side of the brand. 

“This new edition needed a powerful idea, expression and activation to reflect the distilling expertise that achieves its richer texture and bolder botanical flavour, perfectly balanced at a higher strength,” he said. 

Thirst achieved it through contrast, with a darker primary palette; particularly notable when set alongside the white of the classic The Botanist in advertising, with respective backgrounds featuring contrasting tasting notes of ‘rich, deep, bold’ for Hebridean Strength; versus ‘complex; delicate, balanced’ for the classic.

Brand education and exploration is a core element of Thirst’s strategy for The Botanist Hebridean Strength, as is an understanding of the GTR setting the gin will be sold in. 

Consequently, Thirst created concepts for a complete The Botanist GTR Environment, aimed at taking consumers on an educational journey through Islay; The Hebrides; the 22 botanicals; distilling process and expertise; and ending on tasting and signature serves.

The environmental concepts feature displays of wood, stone plinths, and 3D metal signage; split wall bays showcasing the classic and Hebridean Strength The Botanist – where contrast is again king; and designs for a The Botanist bar with displays to educate consumers including the use of bespoke flavour wheels. 

“Airports are transient places and with many travellers and gin connoisseurs alike looking for new and more principled experiences.” Burns added. 

“Drawing on the unique Islay landscape, Hebridean Strength was born. We sought to reflect the rich flavour and bolder taste through our navy blue design expression to help drinkers discover the wild elements of Islay.

“The contrast between the designs of the classic The Botanist and The Hebridean Strength highlights the evolution of the distillery’s offering. Designed for those looking to indulge and amplify classic gin cocktails, we positioned the new proposition as The Botanist, Only Bolder to unlock a deeper expression of Islay’s essence. The environment will elevate all of that beyond the liquid, and help consumers truly understand what makes The Botanist special.” 

The Botanist Hebridean Strength is on show at the global travel retail showcase, the TFWA Exhibition in Cannes, which runs until Thursday, October 6 2022. 

For more information on Thirst, visit


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