Review: Hendrick’s Gin

Recently I declared — quite foolishly — that Caorunn was Scotland’s only gin. Pretty dumb: Hendrick’s has been on the market for years, with great success, despite its slogan, “It’s not for everyone.”

Self-described as a “gin made oddly,” Hendrick’s is famous for the addition of cucumber to the standard botanical mix, along with rose flowers. In practice, however, it is still the juniper that is strongest on the nose, with the floral elements a moderate second.

Cucumbers are actually the tricky element: There is more citrus in the body than anything vegetal, and I presume that is intentional. Cucumber is a tricky element to work with in spirit-making, often resulting in harsh and bitter end products. Hendrick’s is wise to tone it down… but why play it up in the marketing? Probably because drinking roses sounds even less appealing when you get down to it.

This is still a quality gin, but, for better or worse, it’s much less unusual and “odd” than it makes itself out to be.

Update: After a berating from a reader (see below) and another try, I found my notes to be largely consistent. The gin is citrus-forward (distinctly lemon on the finish), and moderate with juniper character. Rose petal notes are enigmatic and fleeting, and I still don’t get any real sense of cucumber in the mix at all. I stand by the rating — this is a fine gin for mixing a cocktail with, and the downplaying of the floral element is a wise choice — but it’s not really distinguished in any way, at least in comparison to what the marketing has to say.

88 proof.

B / $32 / hendricksgin.com


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12 Responses to Review: Hendrick’s Gin

  1. Bruichladdich, in Scotland, also makes a gin: The Botanist Islay Dry Gin.

  2. I couldn’t get past the cucumbers. And the form factor on the bottle bothered me too.. You couldn’t see how much was left in the bottle, and the (retro) motor oil shape made pouring sloppy

  3. In Spain this gin is considered as the most famous premium gin in the market. They serve it with some slices of cucumber and with some rose petals onto it. Personally I found it well distilled and assambled but it is not my kind of gin ’cause I find it extremely floral and sweet.

  4. What kind of lame review is this? I come to Drinkhacker for detailed reviews by experienced tasters. What hack wrote this? The entire review amounts to some unnamed individual’s opinion that Hendrick’s tastes “odd.” That’s not helpful to anyone.

  5. Leigh – sometimes we don’t go as far in detail on some spirits because we haven’t all that much to say about them. Here I see it as juniper first, rose petals second, cucumber a distant third — and not much nuance beyond that. BTW all reviews (and all everything) on the site is/are written by myself. We’ll try to give more guidance next time!

  6. It does taste odd, though. Very good for some things, but not the best to simply swap into classic cocktails willy nilly.

  7. Christopher: Well now that I know who you are, I feel guilty for being hard on you. :-) Normally I really enjoy–and agree with–your reviews. You turned me on to Berkshire Mountain Distillery, for example, and now I drink it regularly. I guess I was just disappointed in this particular review because Hendrick’s is one of my favorites. Also, I think it deserves a more in-depth review because it is also one of the more widely available of the gins you write about, and is considered by many to be one of the best. The Wall Street Journal rated it first in a taste test. Anyway, you are not a hack, so I take that back. I didn’t realize this is a one-man show and figured you had a new guest writer write this particular blurb. All your other reviews are great and this column is one of my favorite RSS feeds. :-)

  8. Leigh – no offense taken. Every palate is different, and due to time constraints sometimes reviews are going to be a little shorter. I’ll try to revisit Hendrick’s again in the near future. Keep on keepin’ on.

  9. For what it’s worth, among my friends who think they don’t like gin, this is the gin they like, and they like it straight. It was the gin that turned me into a gin drinker, and it’s still one of my favorites.

  10. Hendricks, Citadelle and New Amsterdam are the three gins I keep on the shelf in our home bar, and there is a different purpose for each. Hendricks is my favorite, and is what we use for a “house” gin and tonic, but it needs to be paired with the right tonic to really get the benefit, and I find that it needs a little “something” to round it out and add a little more complexity.

    Our house G&T with Hendricks is made with 2 oz gin, 4 oz Hansen’s Tonic water, a dash of rhubarb bitters and a slice of cucumber, crushed once to help release the smell. You need the fresh cucumber to augment the faint cucumber notes of the Hendricks, and you need the rhubarb bitters to round out the palate.

    That said, Hendricks is one of the friendliest, most enjoyable gins I’ve ever tried. Though for the money, Citadelle is an exceptional gin and an amazing value at ~$20 if it’s available in your area.

  11. For the cucumber notes, use a slice of cucumber – it really opens it up. Maybe you tried it, but I couldn’t tell from what you wrote. From my experience Hendrick’s has great marketing, and honestly when we’re talking about clear booze, marketing plays a huge roll in how people come to your brand. But by and large when I’ve served this to be people, I’ve nary heard a complaint. Most people actually tell me they don’t care for gin, then they taste the Hendrick’s and tonic I gave them and they all of a sudden love gin. :)

  12. John Hendricks

    My last name is Hendricks and I was courious as to how a German name ended up on a bottle of Gin from Scotland? P.S. A serious Scotch drinker.

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