Gin-sperimentation #2: Hendrick’s Gin

The Hendricks Pegu
Hey! I thought that I’d actually put up a post about Pegus! Imagine that.

I’m trying to. It’s been so long since you’ve been genuinely on-topic….

Oh, super! You’re back.

Me too. Let’s make with the Pegu wisdom, buster!

So the wife is here as well? I don’t really have anything to say about broads today….

That’s all right. I’m here to make sure he pays attention. I’m thirsty.

Well, I’m certainly with you there! Let’s begin.

Gin-sperimentation #2 was supposed to be about Van Gogh Gin. But after checking out half the liquor stores in Columbus, OH (a city of nearly one and three-quarter million people), I came up dry. Apparently, I’m being dinged by Ohio’s set of arcane liquor laws. Van Gogh apparently isn’t willing to pay off the state enough to sell their gin here. (And equally apparently, the governor won’t take used ears.) We have Van Gogh Double Espresso Vodka out the wazoo, but no Gin.

Heh! I know what you mean. Where we live, the state won’t let….

Spare me. I really don’t care about your state’s moron booze laws right now. I care about Ohio’s moron booze laws, and the fact that they are forcing me to cross state lines just to get a bottle of hooch to experiment with. Can you tell I’m rather bent about this? Actually, the whole State Liquor Idiosyncrasies idea is a pretty cool one for a post later. If anyone out there wants to email me at doug(at)cocktailcapers.com with your local pet peeves, I’d love to start stockpiling.

Ahem. If you have got your usual meandering intro out of the way, may I remind you that I am thirsty?

Yes, Ma’am.

So, I broke down and ponied up for a bottle of Hendrick’s Gin to try in place of the Van Gogh. I had gotten the idea from several of you here and elsewhere, and thank you very much.

Our House in the Woods
Our little cabin in the woods.

I had previously resisted trying the Hendrick’s because it is considerably more expensive that my dear Bombay Sapphire. I already had to take out a second mortgage on our little house in the woods to support my Cointreau consumption. My thought was that I needed another expensive, squat, brown bottle, especially one that I’d consume at three times the rate, like I needed a hole in the head.

Please. Are you trying to imply that you don’t already have a hole in your head?

….

Aaanyway, I bought the bottle. Upon getting home, I did some scrounging around the web. The company’s website is slick, a bit entertaining, and pretty uninformative.
It tells me they use rose petals and cucumbers in the Gin. At this point they reach out a supportive hand lest I faint away at the awesomeness of their genius. I remain upright, thank you.
I learn that they do not have the slightest freakin’ clue what a Limerick is! I held out hope that they had a better grasp on what Gin is….
Finally, I learned that they had a nice variety of interesting cocktails, usual and un-, for me to try. Kewl, but I’m mixin’ Pegus, Dudes! It was time to see if they were up to the task at hand.

I clicked that Limerick link! Those are just not Limericks!

I know.

Yeah! And they barely even rhyme.

I believe I just wrote that I had read them.

I just don’t get it. They have an English spirit, distill it in Scotland, and promote it with an Irish (sort of) form of verse….

Except it isn’t that form! It’s doggerel at best!

Ahem. And you two complain about my digressions? The only explanation is that they let their marketing department get a little too familiar with the product while they were doing this website. As we will see, this is pretty plausible. But I get ahead of myself.

So I looked to my regular cocktail blogging haunts. Jay’s latest post has a recipe that uses it. It looked tasty, but I had a mission. Gabriel has a pretty neat (har!) tasting roundup that sounded quite promising. Michael, at A Dash of Bitters, tried it out and decided the best way to evaluate Gin was by itself, rather than in cocktails. Sorry Michael, but the whole purpose of the exercise for me was how it would work in a Pegu. Still, your wife seemed to like the Hendrick’s…. I then went on to the a tasting of many Gins, by a bunch of Old Grey Ladies. They were happy to damn the Hendrick’s with faint praise, deeming it too fun loving for such serious scribes as they. They suggested it was a martini in a Hawaiian shirt. This attitude from this source immediately drove up my anticipation for greatness…. (And lo, ye keepers of the flame of journalism, had you not flunked out as English majors, you’d know it is an Hawaiian shirt!)

The Sun was not yet below the yardarm, so I spent a few minutes surfing to see who else is talking about the booze in the funny medicine bottle. I found positive reviews from sites just overburdened with gravitas, such as Stoned and DrunkNaked(Sorry, Hog!). A blog with a similar-sounding name, but much more serious content, called Booze Basher, offered an in-depth examination that reassured me that the stuff really does taste like Gin, exotic additives not withstanding.

I ran across a few other blogs that certainly offered up evidence that Hendrick’s… ummm…. packs a punch. A young man named Nicholas Skvarla seemed to think that Hendrick’s induces no adverse side-effects, but I fear that at the point in time at which he wrote his post, the evidence was not yet all in. On another blog, Hendrick’s seemed to be an ingredient in a rather different sort of mix. Kinda sweet, kinda creepy, and not at all what I was looking for! I had such high hopes, considering the name of the blog….

Er. I should note a content warning on those last two….

Hey, Buster! A little late for that, huh? I did NOT need to see that last one! I thought this was a family blog!

Where did you get that idea? It’s a blog about cocktails, for crying out loud.

I just didn’t need to see that. That’s all I’m sayin’.

Ha! Could you be any more juvenile? I’m just lucky Doug doesn’t I.D. your maturity, or you’d never be allowed on here again!

Hey Dear, I’m just joking! (No I’m not, Doug!) What’s got you so mean?

I. Want. A. Drink.

OK, OK! All this searching was pretty moot. I’d spent thirty-some-odd bucks on this stuff, I was going to try it out, come the Stroke of Five.

Doug!

Heh. Easy there. No one really clicks on these links. I see the logs. No one will get that last one….

At last, I scuttled down the stairs to the lounge, where I mixed up a quick batch of the basic recipe. The Hendrick’s has a cork, rather than a cap. I like that. In order to ensure consistency, I used the Shortcut. I wanted to taste only the difference in the Gins.

A tentative sip.

Whoa! That is one seriously good Pegu—different but True. In Gin-sperimentation #1, I felt that the Rangpur added an exotic, if slightly harsh twist to the Pegu Spirit. (Note to self: try Rangpur with the egg-white!) There was no such problem with the Hendrick’s. I tasted the cucumber straight away. It smoothly embraced the herbalness of the Gin, melding it very nicely. I don’t think the basic herbal quality is as complex as Bombay Sapphire. I read elsewhere that Hendrick’s is a powerfully ginny-tasting Gin, but I didn’t see it. It certainly isn’t so in a Pegu. The cuke adds a smoothness that really appeals.
The rose petals are less readily identifiable. I don’t have a great sense of smell, so I didn’t notice them until I stopped tasting and started drinking (enthusiastically). A big slug went down the hatch, and I picked up the rose on the back of the roof of my mouth. A strange place really, to taste something, but there you are. Taste is a very oddly wired sense. I’d have never identified it as rose petals if I didn’t already know what I was looking for. This may mean I was totally imagining it, but I don’t think so. At any rate, the essence is very unobtrusive, which I think is a good thing. Were it any stronger, it would probably be distracting. I don’t think it added or detracted from the Pegu’s flavor, unlike the cucumber, which definitely was a plus.

The overall effect is that the flavor of this Pegu remained a true Pegu flavor. The cucumber and rose were happy to join in, but not butt in. Together they simply softened the character, and removed a little of the edge. I would not try Hendrick’s, however, with the egg-white variant. Both sand off the edges of the Pegu, and together I suspect they would rub it flat!

As I write this, I sigh in resignation. I’ll have to find space in the cabinet for both the Sapphire and the Hendrick’s. I can easily see that I’m going to find times that I want the more robust, aggressive taste of the Sapphire Pegu, and others where the more soft-spoken Hendrick’s will fill the bill.

In summation then, go buy some Hendrick’s and whip up a Pegu. I give it my full endorsement, with no reservations. Just bring your wallet!

About the author

Doug

I am 48 years old, married with two young daughters. My interests are tennis, reading, computers, politics, and of course cocktails. I run a murder mystery party business that caters to both corporate and private events, Killing Time, murder consultants.

4 Comments

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  • Wow… I can see that if I am to achieve true rambling greatness, I will have to start drinking Pegus.

    I was actually thinking of picking up a Gin to play around with when I get paid… would the Sapphire be a good starter Gin?

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  • Jac, I may not be the best person to ask, as my interest in Gin is pretty much limited to Pegus and French 75s. Of course most of the cocktail bloggers who ARE Gin aficionados seem to write little about strating out with Gin. I would say it depends on from what shelf you buy the boozes you are already drinking. Sapphire is an upper middle shelf Gin, with a taste that is a little more complex than most large-batch distillers. It also has the virtue of being sold in flasks, small bottles, and even airline bottles. I’d try Sapphire and Tanqueray, to start. Buy a flask of each and make a few different cocktails. If you find you like either, then it’s time to try the more esoteric ones.
    Of course, you ought to try out a Pegu! Seriously. I’d never found a Gin drink I liked at all, until I stumbled on Pegus. After a few months of drinking them, I found Gin was no longer such an obstacle!

      (Quote)  (Reply)

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