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.