- Food & Drink
A break from the Ballymaloe transmissions and a welcome return to the world of gin. There’s nothing like the peaceful calm and tranquil quietude of the countryside to make you turn to drink. If it wasn’t for the pub and the possibility of inappropriate sex with a fellow student (or better still, inappropriate sex between two other students so we can talk about it for hours), we’d go mad with the long evening monotony.
Months ago, maybe even before Christmas, Peter asked me to review his favourite gin, Hendrick’s. This is a request with a lot of pressure. What if I don’t like it? Will he still like me if I say it’s disgusting drain water that only a tongueless tramp would drink?
I decided to pick my way across this social quagmire from the safe distance of Ireland, so I packed a bottle of Hendrick’s in with my chef’s whites and as the evening sun settled over the gardens, I poured myself a generous measure.
Day or night gin? Woah Momma! It’s 41.4% and there is going to be dancing tonight. Definitely not for the day crowd, unless you have an understanding boss/family/3 hour lunch break.
Smell? A lovely, summery floral smell when you pull the cork stopper from the bottle and there’s a definite whiff of juniper and creamy citrus. There’s also a hint of the bathroom cabinet about it, of mouthwash and toothpaste, but altogether it’s a very subtle scent. You may not end up with gin breath after all, so perhaps it wouldn’t be too outrageous a choice for lunch.
How does it taste? It’s a very fresh, sharp gin – there’s lots of greenness about it and a hint of mint. It has a lot of length too, with the muted spices blooming in your mouth after you’ve swallowed it. I can see why it’s recommended for gin and tonics; it’s young and lively and would be perfect for a long, fizzy drink.
In fact, I turned my measure into a gin and tonic, with the recommended slice of cucumber that makes Hendrick’s such an ostentatious choice in a bar and it was delicious. The cucumber adds sweetness that complements the gin’s freshness and makes the drink very easy to swallow down.
Buy it? There’s a downside to everything and the price is where reality pays us a visit. I paid £23 for it; it’s priced around £23–26 in the shops, although there are online retailers selling it for £21 for 70cl. Quality, it turns out, is still something you have to pay for, which makes it a gin for stylish summer picnics, pre-dinner drinks à deux and quiet nights in the country.