When Scotland Means Gin
by Ian Buxton
Think spirits and Scotland and you come up with Scotch whisky.
That's correct, of course, but now a new generation of craft distillers are defying convention with a wave of exciting artisanal gins that proudly exploit their Highland heritage.
In fact, there's a reasonable case to be made that the touch paper for the current explosion of boutique spirits was lit by William Grant & Sons with their Hendrick's
Gin. First launched in 1999, if it were a single malt it would only now be approaching a decent maturity. But in those 14 short years it has revitalized a category that looked moribund and helped inspire a bunch of new start-ups.
The Scottish connection comes from the fact that William Grant, apart from being a family-owned Scottish company, makes Hendricks at its Girvan distillery on Scotland's West Coast (for golf fans, it's near the famous Turnberry course). That may be a huge complex making both grain and single malt whisky but, in a surprisingly modest building, it also houses the two highly-distinctive and venerable stills that make the Hendrick's spirit, which is then infused with cucumber and rose petal essence.
While still technically "small batch" (Hendricks' prepare just 450 liters at a time), the brand has been so successful that global sales now exceed half a million cases. During 2013 in the U.S., Hendricks saw the continuation of their Voyages into the Unusual program, a large-scale experiential event series that featured in seven markets: Austin, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York and Philadelphia.