This is my penultimate review of gins and this is the gin that turned me on to gins. Our absolute house favorite – Sharmila will swear by it – this is our de facto drink many a evening. Bensan – then a bartender at the Arola bar in JW Marriott, Mumbai (and now an even more famous bartender at the Shangri La in Abu Dhabi) had asked us to try this gin with a Fever Tree Indian Tonic Water. He even had taught me how to cut the cucumber the proper way and slip it between the ice before pouring Hendricks in it. (You can see it in my blog entry dated Jan 2, 2014). We have never looked back ever since. Anybody who wants to ever try out gin – our guaranteed response is – “Try Hendricks with some Fever Tree”.
Now this is a very unique gin and I also consider their process to involve some cheating. I will get to that in a second. It has a very distinct flavor of cucumber and rose petals in it. Which explains the cucumber as a garnish.
Two things had surprised me when I started the research on this gin. First, it is made in Scotland. Somehow I associate Scotland to hard scotch whiskies and not soft cucumber. The other is that Hendricks is a very young gin. It is not even as old as my elder daughter!!
The distillation is very unique – in fact it uses two different distillation processes and then mixes the output! The botanicals are all the traditional ones – juniper, angelica root, coriander, lemon, orange, orris root along with some interesting ones – caraway, chamomile, cubeb pepper, cucumber, elderflower, rose and yarrow. All that is fine. But in the end, they add Bulgarian Rose essence and Cucumber essence. And that is where I feel they cheat. The nose, palate and finish should come from the distillation process and not by adding essences later. (People can always go to flavored vodkas for that). Well, that is my point of view certainly.
The bottle shape is a throwback to the olden times when gin – specifically juniper – was vaunted as a medicine. (In general all alcohols were originally thought to be medicines. If you ask me, they still are 🙂 ). The bottle looks like a traditional medicine bottle.
This is a staple gin in every bar in US. In fact, ironically, it is not as popular in its country of origin as it is in US. It is one of the highest selling (if not THE highest selling) gins in the USA. The origins of this gin is pretty interesting. A renegade son of a pastor – way back in 1830 – that would be nearly two hundred years back – started making gins in a distillery in London.
The formula has never changed since. The ownership of the distillery has changed many times. In fact, even the location of the distillery has changed! After the second World War, the distilleries were relocated to Scotland. Which is where it still is.
This is quintessential gin. Very juniper forward. And also very few botanicals (I think only four). The distillation process itself is fairly standard with the exception that the botanicals are not macerated.
The nose is juniper forward, the palate has the juniper followed by a citrusy spicy flavor that will fill your mouth and then the finish is spicy and long. Got some fair amount of strength/heat to it due to the near 100 proofness in alcohol content.
I had thrown this bottle in the car when Sharmila and I went for the roadtrip. It did not even last half the trip 🙂