Hendrick's Gin Review: Wake Up And Smell The Roses
88 proof small-batch gin, imported from Scotland
Typical Price: About $30
Available at Internet Wines & Spirits
For those of you who have never heard of Hendrick's gin, we'll tell you right up front - it's got cucumbers and rose petals in it (OK, not chunks of them, but the essence of both). When we were initially told about it by one of our interns, we almost laughed whiskey right out our noses. We prefer brown and yellow liquors, the kind usually drunk by convicts and Hell's Angels and superior court judges, and he wanted us to try a gin full of rose petals? We told him to drink his own Hendrick's, and sort his stuffed animal collection while he was at it. But this intern, who chooses to remain nameless for extradition reasons, was insistent that we try it.
The first thing we noticed was that the bottle is squat and brown and distinctive...almost a nod to gin's medicinal roots, because it looks like something you'd buy from an apothecary to align your humors or cure your gout. The second thing we noticed was that instead of crowing about how their gin is the greatest thing since polio vaccination, the little pamphlet that came with the bottle almost dared us to try it. With slogans like "It is not for everybody" and "Preferred by 1 out of 1000 gin drinkers," Hendrick's definitely stays away from typical marketing techniques, though it does say Hendrick's is "loved by a tiny handful of people all over the world." But would the gin itself live up to the quirky claims and dry humor?
The answer is unequivocally "Yes." As soon as we popped the cork out of the bottle (have we mentioned we're suckers for corked liquor bottles instead of screw caps?), we were impressed with the delicate smell that wafted out. There was definitely a juniper smell, but instead of the industrial, Pine Sol tang that has so often driven us away from other gins, the odor was pleasant and mixed with a light citrusy smell. Just by taking that first whiff we knew we were in the presence of something special.
But the real test of a gin isn't the nose, in our opinion...it's the martinis and the tonics. The Hendrick's pamphlet stated that we should garnish the drinks we made with cucumber instead of lime, and since we'd already drank the Hendrick's Kool-Aid we ran out and bought a seedless English cucumber and sliced it up. The martini was made completely dry, without any added vermouth, and it was GOOD. Then we mixed up gin and tonics, our real vice, and they were GREAT. Plus, as strange as it sounds, the cucumber garnish isn't just a gimmick...really added something to the drink, something we couldn't put our finger on but was crucial to full enjoyment. We stuck to just these two drinks, but if you want to check out some more...iconoclastic...recipes, go to the Hendrick's cocktails page.
So what does it taste like? The only adjective we could come up with was "velvety." There were the typical juniper/evergreen tastes, combined with citrus and even a mint undertone. If you're a gin drinker, someone who typically sticks to a Bombay Sapphire or Tanqueray, we highly recommend seeking out Hendrick's and giving it a try. You'll be glad you did. Don't just drink it - savor it, sip it, enjoy it. At some point we'll go back to our brown liquors, but for right now we're going to enjoy a nice Hendrick's and tonic and pretend we're riding a unicorn through a field of daisies.
More About Hendrick's: Hendrick's is distilled in small batches in Ayrshire, Scotland. It's imported by William Grant & Sons, the same fine folks who bring you a few other spirits you might recognize, including Glenfiddich and The Balvenie single malt whiskies and Sailor Jerry Rum.
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Posted by Jake Jamieson at January 8, 2006 10:46 AM