Top ten gins, Hendrick’s and other tales

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The empty Hendrick’s bottle at Madame Brussels

All we could find were empty bottles on dusty shelves.
Quite possibly I drank the last drop of Hendrick’s Gin in Melbourne at Madame Brussels (Level 3, 59-63 Bourke St, Melbourne, Victoria +61 3 9662 2775) the other night.
Owner Vernon Chalker kindly had his last drop – about a third of a shot – mixed into an exquisite Martini.
We’d trawled the whole of Melbourne for the stuff. Alex at Ginger (272 Brunswick Street Fitzroy +613 9419 8058) took my number in case should found any. We were forced to slum it with Miller’s Gin, which to be quite honest isn’t too onerous. And, oh God, on to The Gin Palace (90 Little Collins St entry off Russell Pl +61 9654 0533) and to this place with a stuffed osterich that seems to be open all night but is run by anti-camera fascists.
The quest took me to Australia’s foremost expert on fancy hard spirits Franz Scheurer of the Australian Gourmet Pages.
He tells me that the only way to find the stuff is through grey imports. He says: “You are right, basically every bar person’s friend is asked to bring a couple of bottles in from overseas. There is an opportunity here for a specialist importer.”
Then he comes back to me that Graham Wright from The Odd Whisky Coy in Adelaide is bringing the stuff into the country.
Graham tells me that his next shipment is in April. In the meantime he says the strangely opulent Baroq House (9-13 Drewery Lane +61 3 8080 5680) has a supply.
Jack from Hendrick’s in the UK tells me: “I’m afraid we do not yet market Hendricks in Australia. As you may be aware, we launched the brand in duty free shops last year. However, we will release some product in the next couple of months but currently we do not have any availability in Australia domestic nor can we supply online.”

Top Gins (with help from the raspberry flavoured Ros at Living to Eat!)

1. Hendrick’s
2. Miller’s Gin
3. Gordon’s Distillers Cut
4. Plymouth
5. Tanqueray
6. 42 Below South Gin
7. Bombay Sapphire
8. Gordon’s Ordinary London Gin
9. Other London Gins
Food fascist
1. Do not tolerate inferior gins
2. Switch to premium vodka if gin not available
3. Check out the range of pastis type stuff at Madame Brussels
4. ALWAYS drink responsibly
5. No cigarettes
6. Has anyone noticed how weird too much gin makes you feel compared to other spirits?
7. Has anybody else out there got Hendrick’s?

23 Comments

  1. It’s all about the alcohol content with gin. Anything under 40% proof isn’t worth drinking. Therefore my brand of choice is Tanqueray No.10 and duty free, export strength Gordons or Beefeater (all 48% proof) when I travel or ask overseas visitors to bring some. Keep a look out for Tanqueray duty free/export too. My local bottle shop acquired a couple of cases (I didn’t ask how) and it was half the price of No.10. Hendricks tastes like cough medicine, and the dreaded Bombay Sapphire takes like Toilet Duck. Oh and the only tonic water worth the name is reliable old regular Schweppes (not diet, shudder).

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  4. Hendricks is bloody fantastic stuff, I have about half a bottle left. Good to hear its finally being imported (not by UK backpackers, really imported)

    If you find yourself in London, try and get a bottle of Jensens.

  5. Mark,
    Thanks. I’ve never ben to New Gold and should try it for Hendrick’s or whatever. I hear on the grapevine that it will be imported properly by May.

  6. new gold mountain (above double happiness) has hendrick’s gin. i know, as i was just there and saw it on the menu and the shelf!

  7. Virginifer, it was my body double.
    Kylie, compared to the late John Candy. Let’s not start a storm in a DD cup.

  8. I’m intrigued by this rumour of a certain Englishman ‘looking slim’…

  9. It was a towering Englishman, who, though he looks slim, weighs approximately 105 kgs.

  10. the staff visit council estates and hand out tweed jackets to get the kids out of track suits.

    Glad I wasn’t drinking coffee when I read that. The Hendrink’s adverts in the New Yorker are fairly small but that squat bottle shape catches the eye.

    PS As for the KK visit, I was curious to taste them but once was sufficient.

  11. Phil,
    All I can say what a great job they did designing that bottle and label. Lets face it all bottles are designed nowadays. I’ll drop it when the viral campaign starts.
    Ros, it costs more than that in duty free here! Lucky you.

  12. Glad to help – if you ever need someone to test more gin, let me know. 😀

    I was just sitting here wondering how to spend the £20 from the tutorial I gave this afternoon. Now I know the answer. I need more Hendrick’s!

  13. Ed – If you’re interested in the Hendrick’s ad campaign in the US, their agency Gyro touts it as one of their big success stories: http://www.gyroworldwide.com/client_detail.php?i=39

    So is a new viral campaign spread by food bloggers in the works?

  14. Lauren, I can’t beleive it. Yes, MB is a place I want to keep returning to. I am also strangely drawn to the japanse place below but probably couldn’t afford it.

    Virginifer,
    The bastard. Who was it?

    Pussycat,
    I have to say i haven’t seen the ads and it was when I drank most of Virginifers that I discovered the flavour. Mind you I do enjoy a good brandy although one not coloured with caramel. In fact I prefer a grappa. I noticed in England Hendrick’s sponsors The Chap magazine, a strange title who’s the staff visit council estates and hand out tweed jackets to get the kids out of track suits. PS: Keep away from KK 🙂

  15. I know whisky is made in Tasmania
    There are three whisky distillers in TAS (also one in Vic – Bakers Hill?). One of the TAS trio – Larks in Hobart makes their own version of gin, flavoured with native pepperberries.
    I find it reasonably palatable (although, full disclosure here, my recipe for a good gin drink is: open bottle of gin – tip down sink – open bottle of brandy).
    I suspect the reason Hendrick’s is so grail-like here is because it’s popular in the US – you see adverts for it in the New Yorker and similar books.

  16. I did have a bottle of Hendrick’s but some greedy git drank it all at my party a few weeks ago.

  17. the Observer did a Gin blind test about a year ago
    http://observer.guardian.co.uk/foodmonthly/story/0,,1781907,00.html

    They didn’t rate Hendricks at all!

    Tanqueray is my gin of choice. Love Madame Brussells, btw.

  18. Phil, I too often wonder why spirits aren’t bigger here. I know whisky is made in Tasmania and that there are a few fairly raw brandies. I beleive a lot of ethnics make their own eau de vie. I’ve had some real rocket fuel made from peaches. I’ve actually been thinking about this myself with the glut of grapes. The idea would be to make a designer artisan grape vodka – a bit like Ciroc – here. I’ve been thinking about buying a small still to experiment. I recently heard about a large one that was for sale but i believe it was fairly industrial. Perhaps I’ll get back on to it.
    Kylie, points four and five are a note to self. I should probably add never go out in the evening with Kylie. From now on I’ll only “do” lunch with you.

  19. I must take issue, Ed, with numbers 4 and 5 on your list, given I’m still recovering from a hangover from last night’s outing…

  20. Ellie, I like it especially the outdoor area but it closes at 11pm (we were there and used the seret Hendrick’s password). I believe they are applying for a later license. Have fun.

  21. What did you think of the bar? I’m headed there with a few girlfriends on Saturday to check it out, but would love to know what you thought of the place 🙂

  22. I’m glad that both Tanqueray and 42 Below made your list. I’m extremely susceptible to a Tanqueray no.10. 42 Below does make me wonder why there haven’t been any craft spirits distillers springing up in Australia, along the same lines as the burgeoning craft brewing movement. Is it a tax thing?

  23. I do like Gordon’s or Bombay. Oddly, there is a French gin with Gordon’s-like label art available at one of the supermarket chains. Avoid.

    Yes, gin does funny things to you. It will accelerate your current emotion to an extent greater than other drinks.