Gin Magazine has inducted Lesley Gracie, master distiller of Hendrick’s Gin into the Gin Magazine Hall of Fame in recognition for her 22 years of service to the world of gin in a virtual ceremony held on February 25, 2021.
Known for continuously pushing boundaries, Gracie is being celebrated not only for her innovative nature but also her impressive contributions to the gin world, which began with her creation of Hendrick’s Gin, a rose and cucumber-infused libation that sparked a ‘ginnaissance.’
Gracie, who started her career in the pharmaceutical industry, sought to challenge expectations and bring a sense of experimentation and freedom to the traditional London Dry method of production, an example that has benefitted many modern-day distillers.
With a continuing desire to challenge expectations, Gracie has been responsible for countless weird and wonderful Hendrick’s releases that have garnered immeasurable acclaim and recognition amongst both the best bartenders in the world and legions of spirits fans.
Commenting on the award, Gracie said: “It’s hard to believe that it’s now 22 years since Charlie Gordon first asked me to produce a new gin for him and I started playing around with the recipe that would become Hendrick’s Gin. It was an amazing brief, there was total freedom to do absolutely everything differently.
“We had these two unusual stills and an idea to combine quintessentially British ingredients of rose and cucumber. It was fun piecing the puzzle together and playing with all sorts of flavours and techniques. At the time, it was impossible to even conceive that gin could be as popular and as loved as it is today.
“I am truly honoured and grateful to be inducted into the Gin Magazine Hall of Fame,” she continued. “There are amazing people within this industry, and I want to thank them all for their support over the years and for this incredible recognition.”
With Gracie’s fingerprint is on every Hendrick’s release, it is not surprising that each has its own personal terroir and story rooted in playful flavour experimentation. She continuously seeks to create a delicious, round flavour profile where each botanical balances and builds on the other with elegance.
There are amazing people within this industry, and I want to thank them all for their support over the years and for this incredible recognition.
Orbium is based on the blue lotus flower and is a gin that the brand describes as being ‘what Hendrick’s might taste like in a parallel universe’. Midsummer Solstice presents a flirtatiously floral gin incarnation that is perfect for day-casions, such as brunch and enjoying the summertime. While Luna is a rich gin with night-blooming floral essence, offering a delicate balance of warm baked spices, and finished with a crisp burst of citrus.
“While at the helm at the Hendrick’s Gin Palace in Girvan, Scotland, Lesley’s skills have powered the quirky brand’s rise to global prominence in the premium spirits market, said Bethany Whymark, Editor of Gin Magazine. “She has helped to craft new expressions that continue to push boundaries in gin creation. With an unfaltering dedication to precision and a desire to innovate in her spirits, Lesley serves as a beacon of excellence in the distilling industry, both in the UK and abroad.”
The freedom to experiment and innovate is what has maintained Gracie’s interest in gin for over two decades. A particular career highlight occurred when she ventured into the Venezuelan rainforest with explorer Charles Brewer-Carias in search of unusual botanicals, distilling Hendrick’s Kanaracuni from Scorpion Tail right there in the jungle.
While it was an experimental batch to be shared with treasured friends in the industry, the experience shaped Gracie, inspired her to build a tropical hothouse at the Hendrick’s Gin Palace, and provided the inspiration for a wider release: Hendrick’s Amazonia – which is based on her memories of that trip.
Peter Gordon, Non-executive director of William Grant & Sons and great-great-grandson of the company founder, the late William Grant: “I am delighted that Lesley is to be inducted into the Gin Magazine Hall of Fame. I should also admit that I am not that surprised. One way or another Lesley has been the heart of a most unusual revolution over many, many years.
“And all this has been achieved with a winning combination of deserved good fortune, no shortage of determination, an unrelenting and inquisitive study of Botany, but, perhaps most important of all, a world-beating nose with no quarter given to compromise. Certainly, a winning combination in every sense. I am sure that all lovers of Hendrick’s Gin the world over would like to join me in saying: ‘Well done and thank you’.”
For more information on Hendrick and it’s Cabinet of Curiosities, go to hendricksgin.com