Hendrick’s gin

Having reduced the number of bottles of gin I have knocking around, and therefore mollifying her indoors, I went out and bought another bottle today. This gin needs little introduction; Hendrick’s gin, with its apothecary-style bottle and its quirky cucumber USP, it is considered by many to be the king of premium gins.

Hendrick's Gin
Hendrick's Gin

Hendrick’s gin has been a favourite of mine for a long time, but so was Bombay Sapphire, and that has experienced a fall from grace since broadening my horizons; would Hendrick’s have suffered the same fate?

Produced in Scotland by William Grant & Sons, Hendrick’s is not a London Dry Gin; two of its botanical flavours are added after the distillation process, and as such, can only legally be called a “distilled gin”. These two botanicals are rose and cucumber.

The full list of botanicals is hard to come by, but I have managed to piece the following together…

  • Coriander seeds
  • Juniper berries
  • Angelica root
  • Orris root
  • Lemon peel
  • Orange peel
  • Bulgarian Rose Petals
  • Cucumber

This may be far from complete.

Hendrick’s gin is a creation of a blend of two products from two different stills; a carter-head still and a small pot still. For a more complete description of the methods of distillation, there is a fantastic post on The Institute for Alcoholic Experimentation, the blog of the Sheridan Club, here.

Tasted neat, Hendrick’s gin is a gentle, subtle gin. It is not a big juniper gin, which likely contributes heavily to its popularity, however, it is smooth and complex. The nose is fresh and floral and the initial attack is gentle but there is little spice in the after-taste which is almost entirely floral. The flavour of rose builds and even cuts through tonic water to leave a beautiful after-taste of rose.

I cannot honestly say if my palette can pick out the cucumber. There is definitely a clean, fresh quality to Hendrick’s but I cannot be sure my mind isn’t adding a hint of cucumber because I am expecting it.

Hendrick's Gin Bottle Lid
Hendrick's Gin Bottle Lid

I have it on some authority that those that work with the Henricks’s brand drink their G&Ts with a slice of lime instead of the recommended cucumber. Trying it with cucumber, I can see why – it is an acquired taste, and although not unpleasant, I think I prefer mine with citrus.

Hendrick’s is definitely a vodka-gin; it is mild but also subtly complex like Blackwood’s gin. It has a lot more going for it than the Bombay Sapphire.

Hendrick’s gin, along with Bombay Sapphire, has definitely helped bring gin toward the mainstream, but it achieves this through being mild. It is a fine gin, but if you are looking for a juniper bomber, you are better off with Juniper Green.

I imagine that Hendrick’s would make a good G&T with Fever-Tree Mediterranean tonic water – the combination of geranium and rose is a great one and to have it in drink form should be awesome – I have run out of this tonic, so watch this space.

Update: 21/11/2011

DB Smith kindly pointed out a much more complete botanical list in the comments below, but I have just had confirmation from Hendrick’s that Meadowsweet has since been replaced with Yarrow. So the botanicals stand as…

  • Juniper
  • Coriander Seeds
  • Angelica
  • Camomile
  • Yarrow
  • Lemon Peel
  • Orange Peel
  • Orris Root
  • Elderflower
  • Caraway Seeds
  • Cubeb Berries

Plus essences of Rose & Cucumber

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16 thoughts on “Hendrick’s gin”

  1. Thanks for adding my site to your blogroll, by the way.

    I agree with you and I really like Hendrick’s a lot. I’m not sure if I would be certain without knowing if there was cucumber as much as I’m certain there’s something vaguely “vegetable-like” in one of the botanicals.

    But I am most excited by the Fever tree Mediterranean tonic water. This is the first I heard of it, and it sounds incredible!

  2. @Aaron: Only the best on my blogroll.

    The Fever-Tree med tonic water is ostensibly designed for vodka, but it works really well with certain gins. I am itching to try it with Hendrick’s – it is going to be a floral taste-bomb.

  3. Today I have realised that the 44% import Hendricks towers over the domestic one, like a crane over a sparrow.

    I enjoy Hendricks a great deal, but the strength adds something more than mere alchoholicism.

  4. @LordManley
    I had a bottle of the imported Hendrick’s (possibly from the same airport) but I didn’t have any normal UK-market Hendrick’s to compare it against. I would be very interested in doing a side-by-side comparison. The Sipsmith arrived today, maybe we can do a trade?

  5. Come and visit! Bring James and his wife with you.

    This bottle came from Calgary and I thought ‘I have some of this in my cabinet already’ but I was mistaken. I like it a lot.

  6. Thought this might interest you:

    Hendrick’s has 11 botanicals:
    Juniper
    Coriander Seeds
    Angelica
    Camomile
    Meadowsweet
    Lemon Peel
    Orange Peel
    Orris Root
    Elderflower
    Carraway Seeds
    Cubeb Berries

    Then the two essences (Rose & Cucumber)

  7. Sadly reached 91 without knowing Hendrick’s : it’s a revelation—BUT as you reach for the heights, what about your English ?!
    “The unexpected infusion of cucumber & rose petals RESULT in a most iconoclastic gin”. Like the grammar ! Is RESULT merely a misprint or due to ignorance ? The subject , “infusion”, is singular so the verb must be “resultS “. Oh yes . Pedantry ? OR a wish for the English to live up to the gin? Sincerely, Peter Wood

    1. Hi Peter,

      You are absolutely correct (and now I am paranoid about how grammatically correct this comment is). However, the mystery of Hendrick’s missing pluralisation deepens.

      I have an empty bottle purchased in 2009; the rear label, in this case, reads “The unexpected infusion of cucumber & rose petals results in a most iconoclastic gin”.

      However, the rear label of a bottle that was purchased in September 2011 does indeed have the error you describe.

      The label has obviously been redesigned between the production of these two bottles and I imagine that the error crept-in at this stage – probably someone thinking that they were being clever and “correcting” the imagined mistake. It will be interesting to see if they correct this in future label designs.

      Thanks for pointing this out.

      Kind regards,
      Dug

  8. I’ve had good luck using mini london hothouse cucumbers (semi-julienne in eighths to make a cucumber swizzle-stick for Hendrick’s G&T. They’re perhaps 15 to 20 cm in length, 3 cm in girth, very fine soft seeds. Not sure what type of cucumber you tried, but the ones with a solid flavor and personality of their own seem to work best. I’ll also throw in a few macerated/muddled cilantro leaves on occasion.

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