Hendrick’s moves into absinthe

Nov 14, 2019by Amy Hopkins

Gin brand Hendrick’s has entered a new spirit category for the first time with the launch of a “modern” absinthe, featuring the brand's signature flavours of rose and cucumber.

Hendrick’s Absinthe is the result of laboratory experimentations by master distiller Lesley Gracie at the brand’s new Gin Palace in Girvan, Scotland. According to Gracie, gin and absinthe are similar spirits, but with a “different palette of botanicals to play with”. The product is made with star anise and wormwood – traditional absinthe botanicals – as well as juniper, yarrow and orange. Gracie also uses Hendrick’s signature flavours of rose and cucumber, which she said “really lifts” the spirit and “brings it to life”. She said: “For me, star anise has always had star quality. I’ve been playing with its magical flavours in the background for years and felt there is now enough curiosity and desire to explore new dimensions within drinks to release our absinthe experiment to the world. “I’ve added the rose and cucumber we put into Hendrick’s gin – the rose adds a floral element and the cucumber a fresh dimension, which you don’t necessarily expect from an absinthe.” The spirit has been bottled at 48% ABV – a lower strength compared to many traditional absinthes in order to make it more approachable and showcase its nuance of botanical flavours. The liquid is clear and is made with only natural ingredients. “There’s so much you can do with absinthe, as long as you pull the strength down,” Gracie said. “70% is hard, and I don’t really do cocktails, so for me, you had to be able to drink it on its own without having to add other things into it. “I’ve always liked star anise and wormwood, and we’ve got some citrus elements in there, and some green elements and floral bits. It’s more of a rounded drink than something that’s going to, as I say, melt your ears.” Mixable spirit In addition to its use for sipping neat, Hendrick’s Absinthe has been designed to be the main spirit in a range of classic and new cocktails, such as the Corpse Reviver, Death in the Afternoon, and the Sazerac. Hendrick’s team is also promoting its use in long mixed drinks, with tonic or ginger ale. For Hendrick’s global brand ambassador, Ally Martin, “it’s all about creating a fresh, lighter liquid that’s aimed at being mixable”. He said: “The world has moved on a lot since the heyday of absinthe and it’s high time for this spirit to once again find its home in the heart of creativity, in some of the world’s best bars. “We’ve reimagined absinthe as an incredibly complex, unique and interesting spirit. Not one to be feared for its strength but to be used as a core component of today’s array of contemporary, refreshing cocktails.” According to Martin, absinthe is a category that is “extremely exciting” for Hendrick’s owner, William Grant & Sons, due to its opportunity for growth. “We see absinthe as a category which has been neglected, and we feel that it can grow when the spirit is made in this way and utilised in cocktails,” he said. “It’s much more approachable for people to engage with that way. We will always be known as a gin brand, but that doesn’t stop us from experimenting and innovating in other categories. This is something William Grant has done since the 1880s, so we are used to jumping around a bit.” Martin also said it was possible Hendrick’s may explore new spirit categories in the future depending on the outcome of Gracie’s laboratory experiments. Just 4,000 bottles of Hendrick’s Absinthe have been launched exclusively for the UK on-trade. A wider roll out may be possible in the future.