Much has changed since I published Gin Drink Lab where we taste tested Tanqueray, Beefeater, Bombay Sapphire, Amsterdam, and Fleischmann’s. After those bottles were polished off, only the Bombay Sapphire was replaced and became a favorite for making a traditional gin martini including vermouth and olives. Surrendering to highly visible bar promotion and cute advertising, we recently bought a bottle of Hendrick’s Gin to try.
First to love about Hendrick’s is the easy-open pull tab. One tug and the outer foil comes right off. I’m so tired of struggling to open new packaging, using a half dozen kitchen implements of destruction on layers of foil and plastic safety seals only to encounter a lid that requires the strength of Atlas to remove. Also included in the packaging is a tiny booklet explaining why Hendrick’s prides itself on being “an absurdly small batch gin” and offering a few gin cocktail suggestions.
We’ll taste the Hendrick’s and Bombay Sapphire neat side-by-side before making cocktails. Although the alcohol content of Bombay at 94 proof is higher than that of Hendrick’s at 88 proof, the nose on Hendrick’s is hotter. Behind the alcohol comes aromas of lemon-lime citrus, pine forest, and sage. The alcohol kick on the first sip of Hendrick’s is like drinking hot sauce. Once I recover, flavors of juniper, lemon rind, rose hips, and dried herbs emerge. Traces of bitter citrus peel are left on the finish (which I quite enjoy).
Bombay’s more pronounced aromas are similar to Hendrick’s when it comes to juniper and pine, but veer towards orange and coriander for citrus notes. On the palate, Bombay has a hint of sweetness featuring orange peel and coriander, and a subtle nutty essence. The alcohol delivers a slow burn rather than a kick and is more prominent on the finish. Overall, it’s smooth, well-balanced, and complex.
While my drinking buddy has stayed with his traditional martini, I’ve changed to the Gimlet made with our own lemon mixer (1 part lemon juice to 1 part simple syrup).
- 1.5 oz gin
- ½ oz lemon mixer
Shake over ice and strain into a small martini glass.
Both Hendrick’s and Bombay Sapphire make an excellent Gimlet. But sometimes when we use a complex-tasting spirit like Bombay in a cocktail the flavor profile becomes confusing. The perception isn’t a clash like milk and orange juice, but rather an overload that leaves your taste buds perplexed. We refer to this as “flavor fighting”. While Bombay’s complexity is well-appreciated drunk neat, as part of a Gimlet cocktail it succumbs to flavor fighting more than Hendrick’s does. Don’t worry, no gin was wasted as I polished off both!