I tend to steer clear of ubiquitous gins in reviews. I wanted to highlight the quirky, regional, craft gins that sparked a renaissance of gin distillation. Hendrick’s Gin is so widely available that it is easy to take it for granted. But given both its unique, craft distillation process and its youth it would be unfair to ignore Hendrick’s. If you are of drinking age in the United States, you might be surprised to learn that Hendrick’s is younger than you are. This gin was born in Scotland in 1999.
Partially because of its popularity and availability, and partially because of its dextrous balance and character, Hendrick’s has established a place for itself amongst a family of gateway gins. I have talked to many, many people for whom this was their first and favorite gin. This is interesting to note because Hendrick’s is really not your traditional gin. While the juniper is still present, it’s only there to babysit the predominant flavors of cucumber and rose.
Somewhat ironically (given its broad appeal), Hendrick’s marketing proclaims “it is not for everyone,” brandishing its unique floral construction and distillation process. Perhaps a more apt message would be “it’s not for every gin drinker,” as gin aficionados remain divided over it – some appreciate its fresh, quirky craft profile while others would prefer a more traditional juniper-forward gin.
Even today the gin is distilled in small batches, divided between two different stills. The two distillates are then blended together, and rose and cucumber essences are added before the concentrate is diluted with fresh water and neutral spirits.
The result is an exceptionally mild and well-balanced gin. The cucumber and rose notes make this gin best suited for a refreshing summer gin & tonic, rather than a martini. Bartenders will often garnish your gin & tonic with a cucumber rather than a lime or a twist. This is a nice touch because a heavy tonic or the acidity of the citrus tends to obliterate the tapestry of elderflower, angelica root, and chamomile.
If you’re going to use Hendrick’s in a martini, I suggest keeping it absolutely arid or using a sweet white vermouth. Garnish with a rose petal rather than a twist.
The Hendrick’s Gin Distillery Ltd.
44% Alc. by volume