food

5 Minutes With Hendrick's Gin Master Distiller Lesley Gracie

With the recent opening of Hendrick's Gin Palace in Scotland, we sat down with the brand's master distiller Lesley Gracie to learn more about the spirit.

Supplied
Hendrick's Gin Palace Lesley Gracie | House and LeisureHendrick's Gin Palace Lesley Gracie | House and Leisure

Hendrick’s Gin has recently unveiled the Hendrick’s Gin Palace – an expansion that promises to push the brand into a new era of innovation. Located at Hendrick’s distillery at William Grant & Sons’ Girvan grain plant in Scotland, the Hendrick’s Gin Palace is a symbol of growth, having been described as the ‘most significant development’ since the brand first launched in 1999.

The Hendrick’s distillery is already home to two still houses, and now boasts a new member in the form of the Carrick still. Named after its fabricator William Horne of Carrick Engineering, who built the new still by hand, the Carrick houses the Hendrick’s Rose and Cucumber infusion, and resembles an almost exact replica of the original antique copper Bennett pot stills that have been in use since 1860.

ALSO READ: Mix It Up With These Soft Drinks and Mixers

Hendrick's Gin Palace Lesley Gracie | House and Leisure

Hendrick’s master distiller Lesley Gracie explains that the Hendrick’s Gin Palace opens up a world of possibilities. ‘Although we lead the premium gin category by some distance, we are not resting on our laurels, as clearly showcased by our magnificent new distillery,’ she says. ‘We will continue to stay true to what made Hendrick’s so iconic in the first place, but with the expanded distillery and its fabulous resources, we’ll be able to research, experiment and innovate.’ 

We sat down with Lesley Gracie to find out more about the spirit.

5 Minutes With Hendrick's Gin Master Distiller Lesley Gracie

Hendricks Gin Master Distiller Lesley Gracie | House and Leisure
Master Distiller Lesley Gracie of Hendrick's Gin.

 

How did you become a master distiller?

It lies in my fascination with flavours and how they work together. From an early age, I was fascinated with the curious world of botanicals, and at the age of four, in Yorkshire, I began serving my family teas derived from various plants and twigs. I developed my interest in science and experimentation at the University of Hull, where I studied chemistry. From there I had a successful career in the pharmaceutical industry for 12 years before relocating to South Ayrshire in 1988 to marry. Here I joined the technical team at the William Grant & Son’s distillery as a chemist, where I worked across a number of areas including the development of flavours in whisky. In 1999, I was approached by former chairman and great grandson of William Grant, Charles Gordon, to create an 'ultra-premium' gin – Hendrick’s. I was appointed as the master distiller, and from there went on to spearhead the development of the world’s most unusual gin.  

ALSO READ: The Legend Of Kraken Black Spiced Rum

Hendricks Gin Palace | Lesley Gracie | House and Leisure

What is a still, and how does it work?

Hendrick’s Gin continues to be made with the marriage of two types of distillate and two types of stills – one that has bathed the botanicals and one that has steamed them. The Hendrick’s family of stills has flourished and now stands at a proud six – four Bennett stills including the original antique copper pot still hailing from 1860, and three precise replicas. Then there are two Carter Heads, including one original constructed in 1948 and one exact reproduction. The new stills have been active for almost a year, producing the same delicious liquid that tastes exactly like Hendrick’s did on the day it was launched.

Hendricks Gin Palace | Lesley Gracie | House and Leisure

Hendrick's has been really innovative with its distillations. How do you go about experimenting with new techniques and infusions?

Hendrick’s Gin was born out of playful curiosity, and a delight in the unusual. Our fundamental belief in the value of self-expression empowered me and our innovation team to try everything and anything once, no matter how frivolous it seems. We believe great ideas can come from the oddest places, and by exposing ourselves to whatever stimuli available, connections can be made that might offer the next breakthrough in taste or flavour. As a fifth generation family distiller, we have the luxury of thinking long-term, not having to answer to shareholders whilst having the support of the family to explore the outer reaches of experimentation on a daily basis.

ALSO READ: Recipe: Bourbon Hot Toddy

Hendrick's Gin Palace Lesley Gracie | House and Leisure

What innovations do you have planned going forward? Any hints you can reveal?

We have a long and proud tradition of exploring new tastes and flavours, and producing new variants that have purposefully focused on the bartender community. Newest to launch will be Orbium, a Quininated gin, or what Hendrick’s would taste like in a parallel universe. It's made with Quinine, Wormwood and Blue Lotus Blossom. Another variant soon to launch is the limited-edition Midsummer Solstice, which is infused with floral essences and flavours that capture the 'aromatic intensity of a midsummer day'.  

Hendricks Gin Palace Glasshouse Lesley Gracie | House and Leisure

What inspired your love of botanicals?

Working as master distiller for Hendrick’s brings together two of my passions: gardening and innovation. I love flowers and plants. Right from when I was little, I used to mess about in the garden and pick flowers. And gin is the best spirit you can do different things with; it really gives you the opportunity to experiment – I use the word ‘play’. I didn’t wake up one morning and think 'I want to be a gin distiller'; it’s just one of those things that happened.  

ALSO READ: Roku Gin Uses Unusual Botanicals To Create Unique Flavour

Hendricks Gin Lesley Gracie

What's the best way to drink Hendrick’s Gin?

Hendrick’s Gin is primarily infused with English Cucumber and Bulgarian Rose. Traditionally, it is served with a refreshing tonic water. Find a recipe for a Hendrick's Gin and Tonic with cucumber garnish here

For more information, connect with Hendrick’s Gin on Facebook and Instagram.

Enjoy responsibly. Not for sale to persons under the age of 18.

This post is sponsored by Hendrick's Gin.