When Hendrick's Gin hit the market, gin wasn't the thriving and versatile spirit category it is today. With its distinctive botanical selection and clever marketing approach, Hendrick's was a forerunner for most modern gin types, among dominating London Dry Gin brands.
The combination of Bulgarian rose and cucumber essence was a bold move at the time, and it still feels highly creative even twenty years later. In our Hendrick's Gin guide, we review the gin, look at its botanical selection, and shed some light on the other gins produced by their master distiller.
Hendrick's Gin has a fresh, floral aroma with a subtle piney juniper note. Sweet citrus notes from oranges pair with zesty lime, a hint of rose, and sweet elderflower.
The palate is where Hendricks gin gets interesting. Sipping it neat, it has a smooth texture and everything a classic gin needs. Traditional botanicals like angelica root, coriander seeds, juniper, and orris root set the tone. On top of these classic flavors, there's a mix of citrus flavors from sweet oranges and limes blended with peppery notes.
The finish and aftertaste are where the distinct signature taste of Hendrick's comes to light: a floral, rose-forward taste with hints of stewed Persian cucumber, complemented by bitter notes.
Hendrick's Gin is an excellent gin that's great in a Gin and Tonic but can also be sipped neat or on the rocks. It's smooth, well-balanced, has a classic structure, and unique character due to its floral and cucumber-forward finish.
Gin and Tonic
In a Gin and Tonic, Hendrick's is best paired with Indian tonic water and a cucumber slice as garnish. The tonic water helps make the subtle rose notes shine, and the slice of cucumber emphasizes the cucumber flavors in the gin. It's an excellent beverage, highly recommended, and among the top choices of almost every gin lover.
In a Negroni, I'm kind of indecisive. The cocktail turned out to be quite tasty and well-balanced, with a distinct juniper note and pronounced bitterness. However, I couldn't detect any of the subtle flavors of rose petals that make Hendrick's so special.
Hendrick's Gin worked surprisingly well in a Gin Fizz garnished with lemon peel. It's bright, fresh, floral, and very refreshing while highlighting all the subtle flavors of the gin.
About Hendrick's Gin
Hendrick's is a Scottish Gin with a distinct flavor profile produced at Hendrick's Gin Palace in Ayrshire, Scotland. The floral notes paired with juniper and subtle hints of cucumber are truly unique. When it was released in 1999, it was one of the first craft gins with such a radical new approach; And this paved the way for contemporary gins in the early 2000s.
The brand used to pride itself on producing the most unusual Gin. While that probably was true in 1999, today, there are myriad botanical liquors with a creative set of ingredients.
Further, what the ordinary gin drinker often does not know, is that Hendrick's is a blended spirit distilled in two different stills. One is a Carter head still, the other a copper pot still. Both products are blended before the final ingredient is added.
- Producer: William Grant & Sons
- Type: Contemporary / New Western Dry
- Origin: Scotland
- First released: 1999
- ABV: 41.3% (82.6 proof) or 44% (88 proof), depending on the region
- Still type: 2 different ones - Copper Pot and Carter Head
- Price: $35
- Botanical Ingredients: Juniper, coriander, rose petals, cucumber, elderflower, caraway seeds, Angelica, lemon, orange, yarrow, pepper
- Taste: Floral and junipery with hints of cucumber
- Recommended Tonic water: Fever-Tree Indian Tonic water
- Rating: 4.5/5
Botanicals in the Gin
The known botanicals are angelica root, caraway seeds, chamomile, coriander seeds, cubeb pepper berries, elderflower, lemon peel, meadowsweet, orange peel, and orris root.
After distillation and blending, the essences of rose and cucumber are added to the mixture. This edition of the signature flavors rounds off the spirit.
Best Tonic Water in a Hendrick's Gin & Tonic
In a G&T, we recommend Fever-Tree Indian Tonic Water. This excellent tonic water has subtle citrus aromas and helps Hendrick's Gin to unfold its full potential. A pleasant bitter note in the finish makes the combination a perfect match in a Gin & Tonic.
To emphasize the cucumber notes, drinks made with Hendricks are often served with fresh cucumber slices. That supports the taste and also makes for a nice visual.
I've also seen people pairing it with cucumber lemonade to highlight the cucumber flavor. However, in my opinion, this backfires as the overall flavor profile isn't as balanced as in a G&T.
How is it produced?
Hendrick's Gin distinguishes itself through a meticulous botanical infusion process. The production involves three main steps to extract as much flavor as possible:
1. Maceration: Botanicals are infused into a neutral grain spirit for a few days. This infusion occurs inside a copper pot still, allowing botanical flavors to meld with the spirit. Many other classic brands like Tanqueray, Beefeater, and Sipsmith use this traditional method.
2. Vapour Infusion & Carter Head Distillation: In this technique, the infused spirit is heated and transformed into vapor. The vapor interacts with the botanicals hanging in baskets above. This method employs a Carter Head still or a Berry Tray. Another famous brand that makes use of this technique is Bombay Sapphire.
3. Low-Pressure Distillation: Utilizing a Rotary Evaporator, a tool originating from organic chemistry, this method is ideal for heat-sensitive botanicals. The Rotary Evaporator enables the concentration of fragile botanicals at very low boiling points. For Hendrick's Gin, this technique is used to craft their famous cucumber and rose essence.
All these methods work together to create the distinct, subtle botanical flavors in Hendrick's Gin.
The history of Hendrick's Gin
The Scottish brand belongs to William Grant & Sons, a family-owned distilling company from Scotland. The mastermind behind the spirit, though, is master distiller Lesley Gracie. She had been working for the company for about ten years when she came up with Hendrick's Gin.
Her task was to create a super-premium product that stood out from the masses. And she delivered. Hendrick's Gin was first released in the United States in 2000. And though it is originally from Scotland, the launch in the UK was only three years later, in 2003.
Together with other premium gin releases like Tanqueray No 10 (launched in 2000), Hendrick's tried to bring gin back on the bar menus. The underlying reason for this was that the Gin market in the UK shrank by 25% from 1990 to 2000.
Luckily, this renaissance of the juniper-flavored spirit coincided with the revival of craft cocktails. Together, these two factors ensured that the market experienced an upswing that continues to this day. Slowly at first, but since 2010 the market has been growing dramatically.
Limited Edition releases
Besides the standard expression, Hendrick's started to release some additional types in the last couple of years. These limited releases are Hendrick's Lunar Gin, Midsummer Solstice, Hendrick's Orbium, and Amazonia.
Midsummer Solstice was the first release of Hendrick's "Cabinet of Curiosities."
It is a limited edition trying to emphasize the existing flavors of the original product. The result is a complex yet intensely floral spirit with just enough juniper notes to be called a Gin.
Hendrick's Lunar Gin
Hendrick's Lunar expression is a strictly limited edition. A spirit advertised as "conceived under the influence of moonlight."
The overall taste of Lunar is floral and spicy, with notes of cardamom, pepper, and cinnamon. The spirit was released in 2020 as the second release of the "Cabinet of Curiosities."
Orbium is a new take on the classic Hendrick's recipe. It's a "quininated" Gin, meaning that, besides wormwood and lotus blossoms, quinine is part of the mix.
It is a perfect choice for a Gin and Tonic because the tonic water helps pronounce the wormwood notes.
Amazonia is a limited release that is only available at airports. As the name and the point of selling indicate, Amazonia intends to bring a vacation feeling home.
It's full of fruity and tropical flavors like pineapple and mango.
Neptunia Gin is a limited edition by Hendrick's, crafted by Lesley Gracie, their master distiller. It draws inspiration from Scotland's Ayrshire coast, adding coastal botanicals like sea kelp and coastal thyme to Hendrick's Gin.
Ideal in a Gin and Soda, it pairs well with soda water, especially lime seltzer. Mixing with lemonade may not suit everyone due to its herbal and savory qualities. While it's a bit challenging in cocktails, Neptunia Gin appeals to fans of savory gins, adding a unique twist to Hendrick's offerings.
In our review, Hendrick's Gin earns its 4.5-star rating due to its distinctive botanical blend and exceptional quality. Bursting with floral and citrus notes, it stands out as a pioneering force in contemporary gin. Its versatile nature shines when sipped neat but also in cocktails like a Gin and Tonic or Gin Fizz.
Crafted with precision, its unique production process extracts rich botanical flavors. Master distiller Lesley Gracie's innovation revived gin's popularity and propelled the craft cocktail movement. Even today, this masterpiece is consistently amongst the best gin.
If you're interested in how it compares to other leading gins, check out this comparison of Monkey 47 vs. Hendrick's vs. Bombay Sapphire Gin.