Review: Hendrick’s Midsummer Solstice Gin
Hot on the heels of Hendrick’s limited edition Orbium expression comes another seasonal gin release: Midsummer Solstice, a spirit which looks to flowers for its primary inspiration.
Hendrick’s Gin has announced the release of Midsummer Solstice, a small batch, limited-edition gin by the woman who first created Hendrick’s — Master Distiller, Lesley Gracie. The unconventional release features a careful arrangement of floral essences chosen to enhance and accentuate the existing elements of the Hendrick’s original house style, including the gin’s signature essences of rose and cucumber. Midsummer Solstice marks the first gin released from Lesley’s “Cabinet of Curiosities” within the newly unveiled Hendrick’s Gin Palace in Girvan, Scotland.
Midsummer Solstice was inspired by the actual Summer Solstice, at which time the Earth is tilted maximally toward the sun, impelling all the flora of the hemisphere to attain its peak aromatic prowess. Indeed, a sniff and a sip of Midsummer Solstice delivers the fragrant delight of a midsummer day.
The aromatic notes of the gin include zesty juniper along with hidden undertones of orange blossom and exotic ripeness. This bright take on the rounded Hendrick’s house style complements the gin’s floral character for a liquid that’s splendid in all manner of spring and summer cocktails, from a seasonal Midsummer Spritz with elderflower liqueur, soda, lemon, and a cucumber garnish, to a Midsummer Mimosa or a Salty Dog, bursting with floral and grapefruit flavors. The signature Hendrick’s apothecary style bottle remains with the new Midsummer expression, but has received a purple-hued makeover, from the glass of the bottle itself to the label and logo.
What exactly is the “Cabinet of Curiosities” from which Midsummer Solstice was plucked? It is, in fact, an actual locked cabinet in Lesley’s experimental gin laboratory, wherein she keeps her most prized liquid investigations. Many of which now stem from two Victorian-style hothouses where the horticulturally-minded Master Distiller experiments with botanicals from the ground up; one hothouse maintains tropical conditions, while the other maintains a Mediterranean climate.
Before diving into the review, it’s important to note that the bottle indicates the gin is “infused with natural flavors and floral essences,” which may well indicate that actual flowers, fresh or dried, are not used in the production of the product. Whether that’s important to you is a matter of personal predilection.
Either way, let’s taste.
The nose is absolutely floral as advertised, with a complex bouquet of flowers that offers notes of rose, lilac, lavender, and milder white flowers all in a melange. As it evolves in the glass it takes on a character of fresh linen — and becomes almost soapy at times, perhaps a side-effect of the essences used in the production of the gin.
The palate is sharper and more aggressive, which is a bit of a surprise, those florals again omnipresent but balanced with a clearer juniper element. Some darker spice notes emerge here as well, leading to a light incense quality on the finish that nods toward the East. But while the flowers and spices are quite fragrant and lingering, it’s ultimately the alcohol that I found left the most significant aftertaste, clashing with the more delicate character up front. Best advice: Mix with tonic or use it in a lighter style cocktail like the Bee’s Knees.
The summer solstice arrives on June 21, so if you want to celebrate the day with this bottling, best get crackin’!