Hendrick’s Gin was one of the OGs when it came to the still-evolving modern push to expand the spirit’s boundaries from a relatively constrained wheelhouse of flavors. It’s still not that long ago that practically every gin on the shelf contained the same familiar handful of botanicals, but with a twist of cucumber and rose petals, Hendrick’s cast those preconceptions to the wind, kicking off a new era of experimentation. Today, the core Hendrick’s product seems quite traditional in comparison with some of the truly funky gins at the forefront of the revolution, but it remains a dependable balance between tradition and novelty. And at the same time, the larger Hendrick’s brand continues its own experimental releases, conceived and shepherded to completion by Master Distiller Lesley Gracie in the palatial splendor of the brand’s impressive Gin Palace, which houses multiple experimental gardens for the cultivation of botanicals.
These releases are dubbed as being from Gracie’s own “Cabinet of Curiosities,” and have included such experiments as the extra floral, perfumey Midsummer Solstice, or the quinine-infused Orbium. The latest, however, just hitting U.S. shelves now is Neptunia, a coastal-inspired gin that “combines Hendrick’s signature base with an additional blend of locally sourced coastal plants and a crunchy citrus finish.”
Hendrick’s doesn’t go into a great deal of detail on the provenance of most of those coastal botanicals, although they apparently include the likes of sea kelp, coastal thyme and lime, in addition to the other citrus components already present in Hendrick’s. The resulting gin is bottled at 43.4% ABV (86.8 proof), with an MSRP around $40 or so.
So with that said, let’s get to tasting and see how the Neptunia manages to capture the alluring mysteries of the sea.
On the nose, I get the classic resinous/berry fruity character of juniper at a modest level, along with significant floral notes, punctuated by something a bit more savory. I think perhaps I’m getting the thyme here—it has a slightly wilder, musky note that feels a bit more rough and tumble than the sophistication of the base spirit. There’s a citrus melange as well here on the nose—you know it’s there, but it’s more difficult to isolate each individual citrus element. All in all, though, this doesn’t feel like a radical departure from the classic Hendrick’s Gin profile, but more of a subtle deviation.
On the palate, this assessment holds true—unlike something bracing like Orbium, Neptunia seems to represent a more delicate evolution of the brand’s core themes, rather than a dramatic departure. I’m getting a combination of citrus sweetness, florals, herbal savoriness and slightly warm spice notes. The slight salinity you would probably expect from a “coastal” gin is there, but it’s fairly subtle, a sensation on the lips more than an outright flavor. You do get that Hendrick’s rose petal perfume for sure—the classic flavors have not been minimized in this go-round. Overall, the Neptunia has a pleasant sweetness and citrus accent to it, with gentle ethanol and a kiss of resinous juniper.
Overall, this strikes us as lovely and accessible, though not too pioneering or radical. In particular, it seems like those who love a Hendrick’s martini will find this one to be excellent for that purpose as well, without needing any other alterations. It’s not Hendrick’s boldest experiment to date, but it’s quite easy to recommend.
Distillery: Hendrick’s (William Grant & Sons)
City: Girvan, Scotland
Style: Scottish gin
ABV: 43.4% (86.8 proof)
Availability: Limited, 750 ml bottles, $40 MSRP
Jim Vorel is a Paste staff writer and resident beer and liquor geek. You can follow him on Twitter for more drink writing.