Gin behemoth Hendrick’s has launched its own absinthe to the UK on-trade. A closely guarded secret – not even known to the majority of William Grant & Sons until two days before launch – the new product was last night unveiled to a room full of bartenders who were introduced to the liquid via a Belle Époque banquet, in true Hendrick’s style.
Hendrick’s Absinthe is the result of years of experimentation by head distiller Lesley Gracie at the company’s Gin Palace in Girvan, Scotland. ‘We’ve been looking at absinthe for a few years,’ Gracie told Imbibe in a suite at the London Edition during a private introduction to the liquid. ‘I really like the flavours in absinthe, especially star anise, and so when we had made the liquid, we thought it was the right time to launch it. I think people will find it different to what they’re expecting [from an absinthe]. We’ve calmed it down a bit to make it something that I think is far more approachable.’
Following the process of making gin, Gracie took the traditional Artemisia absinthium (wormwood and star anise) and added five more botanicals, including rose and cucumber. The result is a more-delicate-than-most absinthe, with a warmth on the palate from the wormwood as well as a floral sweetness from the rose and a delicate, but not harsh, hit of star anise on the first sip.
For Gracie, it’s a much more palatable spirit to a lot of other absinthes on the market: ‘When I drink something I always see it in shapes. It has to be round for me to think it’s good – when I tasted this it tasted like a round shape.’
Ally Martin, global brand ambassador for Hendrick’s, has had a lot of fun playing with the spirit. ‘We’ve mixed it in about one-hundred-and-one different drinks. We found that tonic really brings the characteristics of the absinthe to the fore – it also tastes great with ginger ale.’
We try both and find the serves refreshingly simple and extremely complementary of the absinthe. It’s also a new way of looking at the oft-misunderstood spirit, most commonly known as strong in alcohol and served using the traditional absinth fountain.
Of course, cocktails are also a big focus. ‘I imagine it in classics like a Corpse Reviver, with the absinth replacing the gin,’ Martin tells us. ‘The central star anise flavour in Hendrick’s Absinthe provides plenty of scope to create beautifully balanced cocktails and you can push it down a citrus, floral or spicy route – it is really versatile. We’re looking forward to seeing what our friends in the trade can concoct with this liquid.’
The first batch of Hendrick’s Absinthe has been produced with just 4,000 bottles available exclusively to the UK on trade – the company will be distributing it itself.
48% abv, POA, Hendrick’s, hendricksgin.com