Sunday Sips – Hendrick’s Gin

martiniOkay, that’s it, I’m done. I think we’ve all been more than patient with this weather thing, but really, enough is enough. I’m just not going to acknowledge it anymore. Instead, I’m just going to pretend that summer is here. I’m going to drag out the sunscreen and capri pants, and I’m going to pour myself a nice cold gin and tonic.

My choice of gin is an obscure one, with an unusual flavour profile. Made in the Scottish village of Girvan, Hendrick’s Gin is distilled in a restored 19th century still that processes the soft Scottish water and unique botanicals slowly to ensure full instillation of the flavours. Aside from the traditional juniper berries and citrus peel, the addition of both cucumber and rose petals to the distillation process creates a gin with a sweet floral undertone that blends well with a variety of fruit flavours. The dark, stout bottle alludes to an old tyme apothecary and the healing medicinals of the day.

Marketing for Hendrick’s seems to be based on a dare. With the slogan “preferred by 1 out of 1,000 gin drinkers”, and created in small batches to denote exclusivity, William Grant & Sons Distillers, the makers of Hendrick’s, seem to be appealing to an alternative customer. Much as Black Label beer worked to appeal to the Queen West club crowd in the 80s and then lost their market share when the beer got too popular, Hendricks seems to be courting an alternative-lifestyle customer who relishes being different.

Which is to say that, while gin itself is not a drink for everyone (otherwise who would bother to drink the vodka martini and its many bastardizations?), fans of British-style gins will likely find the fruity and floral notes quite interesting and appealing.

Served with a cucumber slice instead of an olive or twist of lemon, Hendrick’s is brightly refreshing in both a basic G&T, or in a traditional martini. Cocktail recipes on the Hendrick’s website include everything from blueberry and thyme jam to lovage cordial.

Since I’m especially enamoured with the rose flavour component to the gin, I’ve made martinis with Hendrick’s gin and replaced the vermouth with rose water. Garnished with the recommended cucumber, it’s a brilliant summer drink, perfect on a patio with a barbequed steak.

In the meantime, perhaps a few Hendrick martinis or G&Ts will help me forget the piles of snow outside.

Available at the LCBO, $40.50/750ml bottle.

Photo from the Hendricks Gin website.