Drinks Cabi­net ’

The Hen­dricks Gin Palace, Gir­van

The Herald on Sunday - Sunday Herald Life - - Food and Drink - Andy Gemmell’s

His­tory: When launched in 2000, Hen­dricks Gin took the spirit world by storm. Gin was nowhere near as pop­u­lar as it is to­day, but due to its un­usual brand­ing and flavour pro­file, this Gir­van-made spirit has be­come one the cat­a­lysts of the re­cent global gin boom. The orig­i­nal dis­tillery was housed close to this new, up­dated build­ing, which con­sists of two shiny new still houses and hot­houses for grow­ing weird and won­der­ful botan­i­cals, a Vic­to­rian-in­spired palm house, a walled gar­den, a lab­o­ra­tory, lec­ture theatre and bar. This in­vest­ment tells me that own­ers Wil­liam Grant and Sons don’t see gin’s pop­u­lar­ity slow­ing down any time soon. The place is stun­ning but what stand out when you en­ter are the three beau­ti­ful stills en­cased be­hind floor to ceil­ing glass walls, each lit up like a shrine un­der a domed stained glass ceil­ing.

The gin: Hen­dricks uses 12 botan­i­cals in its recipe in­clud­ing ju­niper, co­rian­der and grains of par­adise, as well as cu­cum­ber and Bul­gar­ian rose pe­tal essence. Its per­fect serve of cu­cum­ber gar­nish in­stead of cit­rus was one of its main fac­tors in cap­tur­ing the pub­lic’s imag­i­na­tion.

In­ter­est­ing fact: All this fancy kit wouldn’t mean any­thing if there wasn’t some­one who knew what they were do­ing with it. Les­ley Gra­cie has been Hen­dricks’ master dis­tiller from the very be­gin­ning af­ter de­vis­ing the orig­i­nal recipe al­most 20 years ago. On my visit, Les­ley met us at the en­trance to the dis­tillery.

Why visit? Cur­rently the dis­tillery is not ac­tu­ally open to the gen­eral pub­lic. In­stead, the Gin Palace op­er­ates as a space to en­ter­tain and ed­u­cate in­vited bar­tenders and their cus­tomers from around the world. It wouldn’t sur­prise me though if, as the brand grows, this place opens to vis­i­tors in the fu­ture.

Geek fact: The two hot­houses are not just there for show. Les­ley Gra­cie re­quested them; one had to have a Mediter­ranean cli­mate and the other a trop­i­cal cli­mate. The idea is that these will en­able her to grow and ex­per­i­ment with ex­otic and un­usual botan­i­cals that she has found on her trav­els in­clud­ing a visit to the deep­est dark­est part of the Venezue­lan jun­gle, where Gra­cie gath­ered ex­otic botan­i­cals such as Scor­pion’s Tail.

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Each of the three beau­ti­ful stills is lit up like a shrine un­der a domed stained glass ceil­ing

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