Review – Hendrick’s Gin
Creating a brand identity that stands out from the crowd in the increasingly competitive gin market is a trick that not every product manages to pull off. Not only do Henrick’s do it well, they’ve been doing it since many of today’s gins were mere twinkles in the eye of their distiller. Launched in 1999, Hendrick’s is distilled in batches of 450L using juniper, coriander seeds, angelica, camomile, yarrow, lemon peel, orange peel orris root, elderflower, caraway seeds and cubeb berries as its botanicals. Both a Bennett (pot) still and a Carter Head still are used in the process, the latter being unusual in that the botanicals are suspended so that the spirit vapour passes up through them, rather than the typical maceration of the botanicals in the neutral spirit. Rose and cucumber essence are then added afterwards at blending as these botanicals do not play nicely with the distillation process.
Neat: Initially pleasingly smooth, but becoming spicier towards the finish. A lighter gin with a little more rose influence than on the nose, but the cucumber is still hidden away. Not what is expected given the marketing. More lime cordial and a good dash of cumin to give a little character which otherwise stays firmly in the easy-going realm
Mixing: The excellent marketing which has helped drive the unquestionable success of this gin is particularly impressive since it makes a great deal about the cucumber and rose botanicals, neither of which feature particularly prominently either in neat tasting, or in the majority of cocktails. The cucumber in particular is content with its behind-the-scenes role, no doubt assisting with the smooth and fresh character overall. It is of course the signature garnish for a G+T, and an enjoyable one at that. A sweeter/more delicately flavoured tonic is of benefit here so as not to dominate the gin with the bitter quinine, but the effervescence certainly brings the floral character to the fore. Elsewhere, the lightness of this gin is generally a strength, making for a range of easy-drinkign cocktails such as an Aperol-based Negroni (Campari is a bit too much for Hendrick’s), or the sour and herbal Last Word. Both these cocktails contain ingredients which cover for the fact that hendrick’s lacks depth in the mid-palate; a fact that is revealed in cocktails such as the Martinez and even the Martini, which tastes a little drab. No doubt testament to much of this gins success however, is that this performance is perhaps exactly what is needed to win over traditional vodka-drinkers. In many respects it may therefore be considered a ‘gateway’ gin. Which is not to say it isn’t capable of bringing a smile to the face of even the biggest fan of bold flavours, the simple combination of gin, grenadine and egg white in the Froth Blower Cocktail for example, highlights the rose nicely and demonstrates the excellent balance of botanicals throughout the blend.
Signature Cocktail – Hendrick’s Tea Time Jam and Tonic
40ml Hendrick’s Gin, 1 Teaspoon Strawberry Jam, 2cm Diced Cucumber, Tonic Water.
Stir first three ingredients in a teacup until jam is dissolved. Add ice and top with tonic water.
Hendrick’s Gin is a light, easy-drinking gin that makes much of its unusual rose and cucumber botanicals, but actually doesn’t taste much of them at all. It is nonetheless a quality spirit that will no doubt continue to act as an introduction to the gin category for many for some time.
Hendrick’s Gin is available to buy from Master of Malt
★: Terrible, only drink for a dare.
★★: Meh, not undrinkable but best left alone.
★★★: Reasonable, middle of the road.
★★★★: Tasty stuff, well worth seeking out.
★★★★★: Incredible, booze doesn’t get better than this. You need a bottle in your life.