Drinks Cabinet ’
The Hendricks Gin Palace, Girvan
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