June 10, 2007

Gin Palace: Hendrick's Gin

Most gins fall roughly into two categories: the full-flavored Dutch styles, and the "clean" (some say bland) English gins exemplified by Beefeater and Tanqueray (though there are certainly some more refined gins of this type).

Hendrick's, made in Scotland, is part of what I call the "third way" in gin: it doesn't have the heaviness of Dutch gins, some of which are reminiscent of good tequilas (um, if tequila were made with juniper—well, never mind about that). But it has a good deal more flavor than most of the "London Drys," and it's sipping gin, for sure: to add vermouth to Hendrick's would be a crime.

Hendrick's is a recent invention, but its marketing people love to play off the fact that their still—by the Scottish seaside—was fashioned during the Victorian era; Nineteenth-Century images adorn all its labels and bottles. Even the airplane-sized Hendrick's comes in a teensy cardboard tube like the one its daddy is shipped in. (The 50-ML size sports a twist-off cap, rather than the cork on the full-sized bottle. From a marketing perspective, it's interesting that Sarticious appears to serve the same quirky-but-light market niche, and also sports a cork on its full-size vessel. Sarticious is more classically citrusy, but is also a balanced "third way" gin—not quite Dutch, and not quite English in its lineage.)

Most of these alterna-gins are citrusy, but Hendrick's contains—aside from the usual juniper/"secret sauce" botanical combo—cucumber extract and essence of rose. Despite being very flavorful, the final result is still extremely light, and the flavor combination is crazy and brilliant. In fact, Hendrick's works fine in a gin-and-tonic, as with most of these third-way concoctions, because the flavors don't clash with the quinine in the tonic. But I've only done it once, because the distinctive flavor gets buried in tonic water, and that's a crime.

By definition, third-way gins work in most cocktails—though not martinis, as a general rule—and yet I can't get myself to drink them that way. I pour them over ice, wait a moment, and then fish the ice out of the glass.

They are that good.

Posted by Attila Girl at June 10, 2007 09:27 PM | TrackBack

Funny thing is, gin was originally cheap booze for the masses.

"Drunk for a penny
Dead drunk for two pence
Clean straw for free."

I recall a drawing by the name "Gin Lane" ...
(google image search)


Posted by: Bob at June 11, 2007 11:23 AM

There was a time when government manipulation of the market in England made gin much, much cheaper than beer for the equivalent "high."

Gin has a sort of dual lineage: to this day, it appeals to either highbrow or VERY lowbrow tastes.

I like to think I'm the latter . . . ;)

Posted by: Attila Girl at June 11, 2007 11:45 AM

Without gin, much of Europe would not have replaced their existing population. Like today. There must be a poem or ode mentioning "key" and "gates" somewhere.

Vodka helped too, of course.

Posted by: Darrell at June 11, 2007 01:32 PM

Ah, but that's in Eastern Europe.

Posted by: Attila Girl at June 11, 2007 03:59 PM

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