A Brief History of Hendrick’s Gin

Meet the chemist who created Hendrick’s Gin and learn why their unique distilling process sets them uniquely apart from the rest in the category.

Jan. 2021Written by Megan SaunsenPhotos provided by William Grant & Sons

The original Hendrick’s Gin distillery and their “Hendrick’s Mobile”
Hendrick’s The Gin Palace with a hot house and front lawn
Lesley Gracie overlooking the three stills inside the distillery at Hendrick’s Gin
Leslie Gracie pours from a beaker to a tulip glass in front of wooden cabinets
Lesley Gracie sitting at a desk in front of the stills in the distillery
Three copper stills in the distillery under a stained glass skylight
A Hendrick’s Gin bottle on top of a pile of cucumbers and roses
A Hendrick’s Gin bottle being held by a human hand with hot air balloons in the sky and a forest, river and mountain in the background

The original site and distillery, from where Hendrick’s was launched in 1999, is located in Girvan, a little harbor town in south east Scotland. The new site—obviously called the Hendrick’s Gin Palace— is just 100 yards away.

The Hendrick’s Gin Palace, a dreamy structure with high ceilings and botanical hot houses, opened in 2018 and sits a mile inland overlooking volcanic island Ailsa Craig.

Lesley Gracie, Master Distiller at Hendrick’s, still makes the iconic gin the same way she did 20 years ago: just 500 “lovely liters” at a time. This allows Gracie and her team of five to have greater control on those small batches.

Want to drink like a master distiller? Here’s how Lesley Gracie enjoys her Hendrick’s Gin:

1 part Hendrick’s Gin
¼ part elderflower
3 parts soda water
Combine all ingredients in a highball glass filled with cubed ice
Lightly stir and garnish with three thinly sliced rounds of cucumber

Gracie set out to produce a most unusual gin by distilling the spirit in two stills, then combining them to create a beautifully balanced expression — one that’s inspired by a quaint cucumber sandwich picnic in a beautiful English garden.

Hendrick’s is distilled in two unique stills:

Bennett (right & left): An antique copper pot dating back to 1860 that steeps the botanicals overnight.

Carter-Head (middle): Constructed in 1948, this steams the botanicals in a basket at the top of the neck.

What makes Hendrick’s so different from other gins? Take your pick: The infusion of rose and cucumber. The all-black bottle with an apothecary-inspired label. The overall unusual attitude the brand portrays.

Hendrick’s is known for encouraging consumers to venture out, celebrate the odd, embrace the unusual. And that is, of course, because Hendrick’s Gin is oddly made.

Hendrick’s embraces the unusual. In fact, they celebrate it, starting with their self-declared “oddly made gin” that’s uniquely infused with cucumber and roses essences, along with 11 other botanicals.

The oddball brand launched in 1999 after chemist Lesley Gracie was approached by Charles Gordon, the late president of William Grant & Sons, to create a premium gin that was different. Something that stood out on the back bar, on store shelves and most importantly, in the taste department.

Gracie worked for years before she concocted the perfect expression that met her own high standards. Her recipe unwittingly started the craft gin boom and remains essentially unchanged 20 years later. And she remains in her one and only position at Hendrick’s: Master Distiller.

Join us on a virtual tour of Hendrick’s to learn more about the leader in the oddball gin category and what makes this gin so unique.

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