PREMIUM GIN IS experiencing a revival of late, spurred on by new experiments in botanicals and unorthodox infusions. Creativity is welcome in this regrettably moribund segment, but subtlety ought not to be forgotten—no one really wants the juniper equivalent of Smirnoff Ice, after all. And few balance idiosyncrasy with restraint more deftly than Hendrick’s Gin, which has been nearly universally hailed since its launch in 1999.
The brand, delighting in a Monty Python-esque aesthetic, positions itself as “unusual”, “peculiar”, or “odd”. Yet once in the glass, separated from its bottle and branding, the spirit is not obviously outré. Very smooth on the nose, one can hardly sense its 88 proof as the alcohol only fumes up with aggressive swirling. Otherwise juniper is prominent amidst a dreamy bouquet of flowers and faint medicinals almost reminiscent of the spa. The real ‘x-factor’ infusions—rose and cucumber—are hard to articulate until named, and then seem perfectly natural in context.
The midpalate has a slight piney crackle, gently tweaked by citrus and spices (coriander and caraway are two other additions). The rose provides a dainty envelope while the cucumber’s coolness contrasts cleverly with an alcohol warmth that settles in comfortably. The finish is prolonged, tickled by other infusions too judiciously blended to pick out one by one. Besides, Hendrick’s would prefer us not to work that hard; though its additions are numerous, this gin altogether is highly refined and never busy. It’s subtly different without being too coy. Some have called it feminine, but better to just say it’s friendly. And earnestly so.