Michael McCarthy Michael McCarthy | May 19, 2021 | Food & Drink
Hendrick's Gin unveils the limited-edition release of Lunar from legendary master distiller Lesley Gracie.
When ideas come in a moonlit garden, it’s best to act on them. Such was the case for the birth of Hendrick’s Lunar, originating in the mind of the brand’s iconic master distiller, Lesley Gracie. “It was one of those calm, peaceful nights,” begins Gracie, a petite genius who’s a chemist by trade. “I’m very lucky where I live—near the Hendrick’s Gin Palace in Girvan, [Scotland]—as my garden backs onto fields and hills. We’re in a dark-sky park, so there’s no light pollution.”
Gracie says she sat among her flower beds, a gin and tonic in hand, enjoying the night fall and watching the moon climb the sky. “As I was sitting there, the priority of my senses changed,” she says. “As my sense of sight started to fade with the light, my sense of smell started to heighten. I was sitting next to these flowers thinking, ‘Wow, the aroma from them is suddenly very strong.’ The aromas seemed different [from] how they smell during the day. At night, they seemed to have a really warm aroma with a subtle spice. That set me thinking about what we could do with night-scented flowers. I’m a bit of a geek when it comes to flowers anyway, but I was really trying to capture that sensorial change when you transition from day to night.”
Lesley Gracie, the master distiller for Hendrick’s Gin, created the taste for the new release, Lunar, by employing deep floral notes and warm spice elements.
The foundation of the new release is based on Hendrick’s light and complex house style, which includes 11 botanicals and its signature rose and cucumber finish. Gracie created this taste for the brand’s launch more than 20 years ago, after a challenge from Charlie Gordon, the late CEO of Scotland’s William Grant & Sons. He wanted something extraordinarily different, and Gracie delivered. The gin enjoys a rabid cult following. The genius behind Lunar is Gracie’s ability to maintain what fans of the brand adore while adding her new twists: She top-layered the new release with deeper floral notes and a subtle, earthy tone. There are “night-scented flowers and some deep, warm spice elements,” says Gracie. “But it’s not about any one botanical sticking out; it’s how they round together in harmony and balance to create the sensation of sitting in the garden as the moon comes up and the sky darkens.”
I ask Gracie if, during her time in the brand’s so-called Gin Palace in Scotland, she ever considers how and where her creations get consumed. “I tend to think about how I’d enjoy it and what occasion it would suit me,” she says. “As long as you’re sitting somewhere nice and comfy with a glass in your hand surrounded by some people you love—be that friends or family—you’re fine.” The full moon will occur on the 24th day this month. It’s the strawberry moon, so named by Algonquin tribes due to the relatively short season for harvesting the summer fruit in North America. Nature swoons during these fecund days of early summer, and our gardens become showy cabarets. One late night, venture outside. Find a quiet place to rest—and sip. “If you’ve ever sat in the garden at night, the scent of this gin will kick-start those memories and take you back there in an instant,” says Gracie. “Scent is powerful like that; it transports you to a different time and place.”
Photography by: PHOTOS COURTESY OF BRAND