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Back in 1999 the received opinion was that gin was dead or dying. The industry was all about managed decline and in most pubs the choice was between Gordon’s or Beefeater. Not the auspicious time to launch a new product but Charles Gordon, the great-grandson of Williams Grant, had other ideas.

He tasked Grant’s malt master David Stewart and master distiller Lesley Gracie to create an ‘ultra-premium’ gin. Everything about it was a bit different. The botanicals include yarrow, cubeb berries, and elderflower alongside the more usual juniper. In fact, the flavour profile was originally inspired by the garden of David Stewart’s Aunty Janey, and named after her gardener Hendrick.

For distillation Gracie used two stills: a Carter-Head Still (made in 1948) and a small pot still crafted by Bennet, Sons & Shears in 1860 - both were bought by Charles Gordon, great grandson of William Grant, in the 1960s. The Bennett still creates a heavy spirit while a lighter more fragrant spirit comes from the Carter Head still. These two spirits are blended together and then Gracie adds rose and cucumber extracts post-distillation. The final piece of the jigsaw in the packaging: it looks like an old Victorian medicine bottle. Nobody had seen anything like it when it was launched in America in 2000 and the UK in 2003. Served with a slice of cucumber, lots of ice and tonic water, nobody had tasted anything like it.

So long before the gin boom kicked off in 2008, Hendrick’s had already shown that there was life in the category after all. Today, Hendrick’s makes a range of gins, all subtly different but all of them have a distinct floral edge that has the DNA of the original.

For more information, check out our Hendrick's blog posts.

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