The First Quininated Gin
Lesley Gracie the original remarkable Head Distiller of Hendrick’s Gin is still distilling. And she now has her own experimental laboratory in the £13 million new distillery Hendrick’s Gin Palace, a mock Victorian palm house opened on the Girvan site in the south-west of Scotland on October 1st 2018.
Hard to believe that the original Hendricks’s was launched 20 years ago in 1999 by William Grant & Sons. It can truly be called the granddaddy of contemporary style gins. A fixture on the shelves of most bars, it has somehow managed to remain as popular as ever. No mean feat in such a crowded market.
And it has given birth to a few children in its time. One of these is Orbium, an expression launched in May 2017.
The name Orbium comes from the Latin plural for a circle. A name chosen to reflect the rounded character of its botanical profile.
It is the first quininated gin. Yes, I had trouble saying this word out loud. Simply put this means the gin has added extracts of bitter quinine and wormwood. The iconic black apothecary style bottle of the original has been replaced with a lotus blossom blue one to reflect the third unusual botanical.
Like Hendrick’s the first 11 botanicals are both steam distilled in a Carter-Head still to give a lighter gin profile and also distilled after maceration in a Victorian Bennett still to give a richer botanical gin. Both gins are then combined in just 500-litre batches. The rest of the botanicals are added post-distillation.
Bulgarian rose and cucumber essences post distillation as well as quinine, wormwood and blue lotus blossom.
On the nose, Orbium is fruity, sweetly floral and juniper in equal measure with woody undertones. It smells like a G&T.
Juniper will tickle your tastebuds but so will herby coriander, zesty lemon and the floral botanicals, although not immediately identifiable as rose or lotus blossom. The bitterness of the quinine is complemented by the floral notes and spicy undertones. For Hendrick’s lovers, the cucumber is still there and can be found by adding a drop of water. The finish is long, complex, dry, woody and full of juniper.
This gin won’t please everyone. But I am willing to bet a bottle of Orbium it will please the real ginthusiasts out there who will enjoy its complexity and are not afraid of a little bitterness from the quinine and wormwood.
Sometimes the best serves are the simplest: premium Indian tonic or soda water with lemon zest and some chunky clear ice. If you can’t leave it alone then add a bit of cucumber and a few juniper berries.