Leslie Gracie crafted her first gin recipe in 1999 after 21 trial distillations. Today it is one of the worlds most revered gins. Her fascination with botanical flavours began at 4 years old when she began serving her family’s tea’s which were brewed from plants and twigs. She is a Chemist by trade and she accidentally became a master distiller! That is a pretty cool career accident if you ask us!
In 1988 she joined the William Grants team in Scotland and having a chemistry background, was given new liquid innovation as part of her remit. The then CEO encouraged her to embrace creativity and think outside the box. Over cucumber sandwiches in the very British gardens of the distillery, she decided this would form the theme of her very first gin. Thus, Hendricks was born!
Leslie’s abandon for convention is fascinating, and she still distils every single drop of Hendricks herself, 22 years after creating the recipe. There are just 4 people who know the recipe to this day and it is still made in tiny 500 litre batches every time it is distilled.
“Gin is so special because you can use anything—as long as it’s not poisonous—and as long as you have juniper at the front,” Leslie says “You can basically use anything, so the range for different gins is enormous. Whereas the hands of whiskey makers are tied by what they can use, gin allows you to do so many different things. I think it’s just a fascinating place to be in.”
What makes Hendricks unique is the 13 botanicals used, at the forefront are rose and cucumber which are both added post distillation. We asked why that was the case, and Leslie informed us that adding cucumber ahead of the distillation would turn the Hendricks into a drink that tasted of old stewed school cabbage, rather than fresh and aromatic cucumber. Enough said.
In almost 4 years of the Gin Box we have never featured Hendricks. It is one of the great gins of the world and is most certainly different to almost every other gin out there. Leslie continues to innovate and look for new ways to continue the gin revolution she started. For now though, she’s happy encouraging you to try a Hendricks with your afternoon tea, with cucumber sandwiches and maybe even a pot of tea. If you do go for a cuppa over a Hendricks and Fever Tree, you’ll need some snacks.
63 miles from the Hendricks Gin Palace (a Real Gin Palace and visitor centre!) is Scotland’s oldest Tea cake factory. Thomas Tunnock was born in 1865 and 5 generations later they are still the world’s most popular tea cakes. Whether you go for a cuppa with a teacake, or a full afternoon tea with cucumber sandwiches and gin, we hope you’ll enjoy it, knowing a little more about the mastermind behind Hendricks.
Distilled in two different stills, and then blended before the addition of fresh rose and cucumber is what sets Hendricks apart. It is made with a Carter head still where the botanicals are placed in a copper basket and the heated vapour is passed through the botanicals, rather the submersing the botanicals in the liquid. This helps maintain freshness but the stills are no longer produced today. They also use a Pot still where the botanicals are macerated for 24 hours. The two are then blended, marrying the best of the deeper flavours of the Pot Still and the lighter flavours from the Carter- head.
NOSE: Creamy aromas right off the bat, with a little zesty citrus, juniper, rose petal jelly
TASTE: Astoundingly fresh notes of cucumber with juniper, oak, a touch more citrus and vanilla. Creamy and savoury.
FINISH: A long, refreshing, floral finish.