It’s enough to get people in a tizzy. The argument over who makes the world’s best gin. After all, this is not flavorless vodka we are talking about. Maybe you’d get an angry retort from a Moscovite for saying such a thing. But gin is a connoisseur’s spirit. From artisanal brands to old mainstays, the colorless liquid has a rabid following among liquor aficionados. But with so many bad, cheap gins on the market, how is one to choose the best for dirty martinis or more fanciful concoctions? Mainstays such as Tanqueray and Bombay have a lead in market share but Scottish brand, Hendrick’s, with its unique flavor profile, has become one of the top choices for the more discerning gin drinker.
It all starts at the distillery in Girvan, Scotland. The small town on the country’s southwest coast is known for windswept fields of green as well as for Glenfiddich whiskey. While the whiskey distillery is massive and employs a large number of people, the botanical-rich Hendrick’s is crafted by master distiller Lesley Gracie at the site of a former munitions factory. Since 1999, Gracie has been creating the unique gin in small batches via two stills: a Carter-Head and a Bennett. Like twin siblings, the stills have to work in tandem. The Carter-Head bathes the botanicals while the Bennett boils them. Gracie sources only the finest botanicals from around Europe.
Hendrick’s is the only gin on the market that uses 11 different botanicals in its creation. There’s the requisite juniper berries as well as earthy coriander, angelica and orris root, lemon peel, chamomile, cubeb berries, orange peel, yarrow, carroway seeds and elderflower. Cucumber essence and rose oil are added to the finished product. The roots and seeds are kept in compact, wooden boxes near the distillery entrance. Sinking your hands into the various botanicals is a treat for four of the five senses. The fifth sense gets its due with each sip of the finished product.
Most gin aficionados love their gin martinis but I am partial to the English Garden. Perfect for the lazy days of late summer.
one shot Hendrick’s Gin
splash of lime juice
splash of St. Germain
top off with pressed apple juice
pour over ice and garnish with cucumber slices