January 8, 2006

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

Hendrick's GinFor 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.

Site: CucumberGin.com

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Posted by Jake Jamieson at January 8, 2006 10:46 AM
Recent Comments

I typically don't like gin, and tend to avoid them. However, I encountered this quirky bottle in a freezer at a place I was staying at and it never left my mind. It made a great ice pack at that time and I did try a sip just to see. Years later, a dear friend was making G and Ts for a bunch of us and I asked to try a sip. I discovered I actually liked a G and T. Finally bought my first bottle today and enjoying my G and T. I will get some cukes to try instead of the standard lime.

Posted by: Joy at May 3, 2014 11:25 PM

Hendrick's is by far the best gin on the market and has hidden in the shadows for some time. It's nice to see that there are others who love it as well.

Posted by: Todd at September 1, 2012 10:49 AM

If you really want to try something memorable, try a Hendrick's & Ginger. Get a good all natural Ginger ale (like Boylans) and mix like a standard drink in a rocks glass. Garnish with a lemon only. I was hooked on the Hendrick's & Tonic, until I tried this...

Posted by: Greg at March 14, 2011 10:52 PM

When the grocery store didn't have my usual Plymouth Gin, I was drawn to the unique shape of the Hendrick's bottle. I pulled out my iPhone and googled Hendrick's Gin Review right there in the store, and found your post. Love your writing style. I bought the Hendrick's and enjoyed a cucumber martini last night. Thank you.

Posted by: dadshouse at November 24, 2010 12:55 PM

Real gin drinkers have long since left Sapphire and Tanqueray behind, as they are vastly inferior to many gins on the market.

Posted by: GinSnob at August 24, 2010 4:14 PM

"The martini was made completely dry, without any added vermouth"

Just so you know, to someone that actually does appreciate and know something about liquor, this statement/attitude reeks of poseur and someone with no real experience or taste when it comes to alcohol, and is just blindly stating what they think sounds like something an experienced drinker might believe.

Posted by: Lobo at January 23, 2010 11:10 AM

Wow! I stepped into the local bottle shoppe and looked around for a bit, then up on this shelf high above all other spirits was this distictive little bottle covered in dust that said Hendricks gin. I chuckled to myself and looked at the other gin bottles as I reached for it wondering how it compared to the rest. The price was 13.99 so I blew the dust off and once purchased I got home and made a simple gin and juice mix. Fantastic gin with flavor especially for that price was a steal.

Posted by: wes at September 4, 2009 10:07 PM

Yep, luv them rose petals.

Posted by: Scooterboy at May 29, 2009 4:07 PM

It's about time that someone else commented on this Hendricks Gin review. Simply, it's a great and accurate review. My martini friends too made fun of the cucumber and Bulgarian rose petals that are used to flavor this scrumptious gin, but, after they tasted it, they too were hooked. Not piney, no bitter after taste, it's velvety and smooth and simply the best gin I have ever tasted. My family has some Buchanan's in it and they would approve of this Scottish-produced gin (hey, it's close to London, you know, same island). A beautiful gin.

Posted by: Mark P. at May 16, 2009 6:43 PM

I've been drinking Hendrick's and Tonic for quite a while. No other gin stands up to it. Try, Hendrick's, sweet & dry vermouth with a splash of orange. It's called a Bronx Cocktail. Very yummy.

Posted by: Matt in Boston at March 24, 2008 11:16 PM

Bought the Hendrick's Gin at duty free coming back from Canada. Bought it because I had never hard of it before and was game for something different. Yes, the cork was different, then came the smell f roses - in a gin!!! I thought I would become gay if I tried it. I did ... with tonic and absent the cucumber which I did not
have. WOW ! A totally differnent and most pleasant taste, and no bitey aftertaste - I could have drunk the whole bottle. Next night I had to try a martini with dry vermouth(again I forgot yhe cucumber) but once more I had a great taste treat. The martini was by far the best one I have ever had. And I preferred it to the G & T.

So this leaves me with a question: where do I buy this gin anywhere close to zip code 48114 or 48116 - Livingston County, southeastern Michigan? What stores carry it? Please help me out before I run out of the imported Canadian liter bottle.


Posted by: taylor at July 17, 2006 9:55 PM
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