A Scots distiller is branching out into absinthe, aiming to make it an approachable and mixable super premium spirit.
Hendrick’s has announced the launch of Hendrick’s Absinthe, the result of experimentations from the laboratory of master distiller Lesley Gracie at Hendrick’s Gin Palace in Girvan.
Hendrick’s’ interpretation of absinthe takes the traditional ‘Artemisia absinthium’ best known as wormwood and star anise and venture beyond the conventional by curiously adding five additional botanicals including Hendrick’s much-loved rose and cucumber.
She said: ‘Absinthe has this incredibly rich history steeped in mystery and was for many years feared but it really shouldn’t be, it is such an amazing liquid. Absinthe is really a cousin to gin, in that it is a botanically flavoured spirit, just with a different palette of botanicals to play with.
‘It conjures up images of the strange and the surreal and so is perfectly at home in our playground at the Hendrick’s Gin Palace.
‘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.’
Crafted to bring the approachability and mixability of gin to absinthe, Hendrick’s Absinthe is bottled at 48% ABV and so steers clear of the fiery strength of more traditional blends.
All flavours are entirely natural, and no colour is added, ensuring a clear expression of absinthe to further aid mixability.
Batch one of Hendrick’s Absinthe is produced in limited quantities with just 4000 bottles available exclusively to the UK on trade.
Ally Martin, global brand ambassador for Hendrick’s added: ‘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.
‘The central star anise flavour in Hendrick’s Absinthe provides plenty of scope to create beautifully balanced cocktails and you can push it down a citrus, floral or spicy route in – it is really versatile. We’re looking forward to seeing what our friends in the trade can concoct with this liquid.’
The announcement has created something of a stir in the drinks industry, and Olly Wehring, drinks editor at GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company, said: ‘In its 20th year, Hendrick’s is breaking out of its comfort zone, adding an absinthe expression to the gin stable. The move isn’t as bold as it looks, though. Nor does it suggest dissatisfaction with the performance of the gin brand on William Grant’s part.
‘Hendrick’s has been a remarkable success story for the UK-headquartered group. More recently, as the gin boom has taken hold, the brand continues to hold its own among newcomers, refreshing it’s offering this year through the addition of extensions such as Midsummer Solstice and Amazonia this year.
‘Had William Grant launched a Hendrick’s vodka, for example, then William Grant could be justifiably accused of panicking. A niche product such as an absinthe, however, suggests fun is being had rather than alarm bells being heard.
‘Besides, with its Victorian-esque positioning, Hendrick’s works far better in absinthe than, say, Tequila.’