The Hendricks Gin Palace, Girvan

History – When launched in 2000, Hendricks Gin took the spirit world by storm. Gin was nowhere near as popular as it is today, but due to its “most unusual" branding and flavour profile, this Scot-tish gin made in Girvan has become one the catalysts in the global gin boom over the last ten years. The original Gin Palace (their distillery) was housed around 30 metres from this new £13 million pound investment. The main purpose of the new building is to double the gin production due to public demand but also create space to experiment with and create new botanical flavours under the Hendricks brand. I was lucky enough to be invited to the unveiling of the updated distillery which consists of two shiny new still houses for production as well as two hothouses for growing weird and wonderful botanicals, a Victorian-inspired palm house, a walled garden, a laboratory, a lecture theatre and bar. This investment tells me that their owners William Grants and Sons don't see gins popularity slowing down anytime soon. The place is stunning but what stands out when you enter is their pride and joy; three beautiful stills encased behind floor to ceiling glass walls, which produce Hendricks, each lit up like a shrine under a domed stained glass ceiling.

The Gin – Hendricks uses 12 botanicals in its recipe including juniper, coriander, angelica root, orris root, orange peel, lemon peel, cubeb berries, grains of paradise, caraway seeds, elderflower, yar-row and chamomile. As well as these it also adds cucumber and Bulgarian rose petal essence to give it the unique flavour profile. Its perfect serve of cucumber garnish instead of citrus was one of its main factors in capturing the publics' imagination. The spirit itself is made using a Bennett pot still, and a Carter Head pot still which both produce contrasting styles to create Hendricks Gin.

Interesting fact – All this equipment and fancy kit wouldn't mean anything if there wasn't someone there that knew what they were doing with it. Lesley Gracie has been Hendricks Master Distiller from the very beginning after devising the original recipe before its launch almost 20 years ago. On my visit, it was Lesley herself that met us at the entrance to the distillery with her head popping through a hatch in a large wrought iron door before stating “who’s there??” before allowing us en-try to her new playground.

Why Visit? – At the moment it is not opened to the general public. The Palace ambitions are that as a space to entertain and educated invited bartenders and their customers from all over the world. It wouldn't surprise me though that as the brand grows, you will see this place open to visits in the future.

Geek Fact – The two hothouses that sit on either side of the main building are not just there for show. Leslie requested them; one had to be Mediterranean climate and the other a Tropical cli-mate. Cultivating her curiosity these will enable her to grow and experiment with exotic and unu-sual botanicals that she has found on her travels including a visit to the deepest darkest part of Venezuelan jungle where Gracie gathered exotic botanicals, such as Scorpion’s Tail.

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