Hendrick’s Gin Palace, Lesley Gracie’s botanical wonderland, is the prize for the 2021 Bartender of the Year
What started off as an idea of capturing the quintessential summer scents and flavours
of rose and cucumber in gin form is now, 20 years later, one of the best-known gin brands in the world.
A gin like no other, Hendrick’s is created with a symphony of no less than 11 botanicals sourced from all corners of the world, before being consummated with the curious yet marvellous infusions of rose and cucumber.
It is not only the rose and cucumber which makes Hendrick’s unique, as the gin is distilled using not one but two utterly dissimilar types of still. The leaders of this peculiar ensemble is a Bennett, an antique copper pot still dating right back to 1860, and a rare Carter-head from 1948, of which only a handful exist today. The marrying of these two types of distillate, alongside the brand’s signature cucumber and rose, results in a rare union of lightness, depth and intricacy.
The creation of the Hendrick’s Gin Palace in Girvan on the West Coast of Scotland, is home to the much-loved brand. It’s also now the botanical playground for Hendrick’s Gin Master Distiller, Lesley Gracie, who began Hendrick’s’ journey more than 20 years ago. Gracie, a former scientist who had been with William Grant & Sons for many a year developing different flavour profiles, created the original Hendrick’s Gin recipe in the late 1990s, and since has ventured to new heights, developing a range of Hendrick’s Gin innovations which have been influenced by her love of botanicals.
A trailblazer in her own right, Gracie has led the brand from strength to strength from the beginning of the Ginaissance, a movement in the 1990s which saw gin shift from the spirit deemed as “liquid madness” to the most popular and sophisticated liquor on the market.
Influenced by her travels and the people she met abroad, Gracie saw a gap in the market to elevate the brand, which would see her work closer with bartenders to create an elixir which not only would produce the most unusual gin & tonics but refine gin cocktails to what they are today. The concoction, Hendrick’s Quinetum – a new-fangled quinine cordial which was quick to sophisticate bartender’s own innovations. Following the success, Gracie was inspired to bolster Hendrick’s offer with the Cabinet of Curiosities consisting of the floral Midsummer Solstice, the deep and mysterious Orbium and complex yet aromatic Absinthe. With Orbium and Absinthe created exclusively for the bar community to mix into modern cocktails.
As the brand continues to evolve its expressions, Gracie maintains the control of her artistry by crafting just 500 litres at a time. “I’m very proud to say I ensure every single drop is true to the original recipe I created over 20 years ago. We still make Hendrick’s in teeny tiny batches; my key objective is total consistency, wherever you are in the world, whenever you taste Hendrick’s Gin, it will taste exactly the same as that very first batch I made.”
When it comes to the wider gin industry, Gracie is curious of the creations up and coming distillers are inventing. With Gracie holding positions in both the Gin Guild and ISC tasting panel for white spirits, one thing that is key to catch her eye are juniper led combinations. In 2021, Gracie hopes young talent shift their attention to this space which often isn’t played in, leaving many opportunities for greatness.
A passion for innovation and nurturing the next generation, Gracie is always seeking the right talent to elevate the brand whether they be chemists, bartenders, botanists or distillers. In 2021, Hendrick’s Gin has set its sights on bartenders to take the brand to new heights, officially sponsoring the ‘2021 Australian Bartender of the Year Competition’. With the bar community continuing to play an integral role in the success of the brand, in 2021, Hendrick’s will focus its attentions on those who bring their most beloved spirit to life.
After a year’s hiatus, the competition is back and will be fought out over three rounds. The contest will culminate with Australia’s best bartenders competing live on stage at the Australian Bar Awards in front of 600 of the country’s leading bar industry professionals.
The winning bartender will have the opportunity to hone their craft with Lesley Gracie herself as they’ll be flown to Hendrick’s Gin Palace in Girvan, Scotland in 2022. The winner will have the opportunity to collaborate with Gracie and her team to discover new ways to create outstandingly delectable gin concoctions with Hendrick’s known character, flair and balance.
With many of the world’s leading bartenders claiming the title of Bartender of the Year, Hendrick’s Gin has long been working with the bar community, taking a seat at the wonky table to create some of the most intriguing flavour sensations.
“The talent for the art and creativity of bartending is in abundance here in Australia. I cannot wait to see what marvelous tipples await us in September!” says Luke Sanderson, Brand Ambassador, Hendrick’s Gin.
For Gracie, it’s about collaborating with diverse talent especially young innovators, with past winners coming from humble beginnings to becoming overnight industry sensations. Currently there are only four sets of hands toiling together in the gin palace under the direct supervision of Master Distiller, Lesley Gracie, all of which include a diverse pool of innovators bringing their own unique palettes and techniques to continue to create liquid perfection.
With Gracie a trailblazer in her own right, she has a personal passion for encouraging talent from all walks of life to bring their craft to the industry, “In recent years, especially in Australia, young innovators have been making their mark on liquor industries and proving what passion, determination and a love of the spirit can lead to. And they’re particularly capitalising on the nation’s love affair with gin. I encourage all to enter in 2021 – if you want to do it, go for it, there’s nothing stopping you.”
For more information about Hendrick’s gin, reach out to your William Grant & Sons rep.
To register your interest in competing in the Bartender of the Year competition in 2020, click here.