Monday, August 22, 2016

Hendrick's Gin with a bit of Victorian excess

I had to really think about writing about Hendrick's gin. I'm not that keen on it so it was tempting not to bother, but then it's been so influential that it seemed wrong not to. I don't think it's coincidence that I've really struggled to think of a book to match it.

Hendrick's was launched in 2001, its success, and it is successful, setting the template for modern gin branding. I've heard Hendrick's described as a good gin to start with if you're not sure you like gin - the juniper is there but it's held in check by the cucumber and Rose elements that are added after distillation - and that's precisely why I'm not very excited by it. It's a perfectly nice gin, I take no issue with the cucumber garnish (I wouldn't object if you wanted to stick a rose in it either), but it simply isn't juniper forward enough for me. That's an entirely personal response, a gin doesn't get to be as popular as Hendrick's through marketing alone, it's a very well made spirit that deserves its fan base.

Not that I want to undersell the marketing though, it is a triumph, and worth celebrating. 15 years down the line it's perhaps hard to remember how fresh Hendrick's looked. The bottle shape and colour, the Victorian style decoration, the humour, even the tea cups... Hendrick's basically persuaded a generation of drinkers that gin was cool again (it is, they were right). They keep making it fun, and I don't doubt for a moment that they'll continue to do so, and that in itself is more than enough to make me raise a glass to them.

Book wise I feel Hendrick's calls for something that really celebrates Victorian eccentricity and excess. If I knew much about steam punk (beyond that it's a thing) I'm pretty sure I could find something perfect, but it's not a genre I've read. I suspect Jules Verne or H. G. Wells in science fiction mode would be appropriate but I've only seen films so they would be cheating. Wilkie Collins at his most sensational might do (I'm thinking 'Poor Miss Finch' levels of plotting craziness) but then the gin is perhaps to serious for that (allusions to blue ruin notwithstanding). It's a reminder that I ought to read some Florence Marryat or, Sheridan Le Fanu, but as I haven't...

The obvious choice for me ends up being collections of Victorian ghost stories and Gothic tales. This is partly in recognition of the current Hendrick's box which references the Victorian fascination with spiritualism and raising spirits, but mostly because I love this kind of thing.


  1. What a superb idea. I think of C. G. Rossetti's "Goblin Market" with its combination of fruits, flowers, and death and preternaturally premature grey hair. Do you know the poems of AC Doyle? They would fit quite exquisitely and William Allingham can be nicely excessive.

    I always love reading your blog.

  2. Thank you! And thank you for the suggestions, Rossetti would be perfect and I'll investigate the other two.