Almost 20 years after the launch of the original Hendrick’s gin, the Scottish gin brand is adding a new expression to its line-up – a limited edition release called Orbium.
And Singapore is the first market in Asia where you can try it at selected bars.
When Hendrick’s gin first hit the market in 1999, it stood out from the many London dry gins that then dominated the scene – with its unusual cucumber and rose botanicals and opaque, apothecary-style bottle.
The brand sold one million cases worldwide last year.
With Orbium, it continues to break the rules. The name is a take on “orb”, the Latin word for circle, and the overall rounded flavour of the gin.
Made by master distiller Lesley Gracie, Orbium is based on Hendrick’s Gin with additional extracts of quinine, wormwood and blue lotus blossom.
These extra ingredients take cues from some of the most iconic gin cocktails – the gin and tonic and the martini.
Quinine is the major ingredient found in tonic water, while wormwood is an ingredient in vermouth, a core element in the making of a gin martini. Blue lotus blossom is added to balance the overall flavour.
Ms Gracie tells The Sunday Times that the release was a “natural progression” for the brand which has, over the years, released smallbatch, experimental gins and cordials to bartenders, several of which contained quinine.
“It made complete sense to us to do what no one else was doing: develop and launch a totally different gin which already contains the quinine element and other complementary botanicals,” she says.
She adds that Orbium, which has been available in Britain since 2017, “has been extremely well-received by bartenders (who are) eager to develop new and exciting cocktails with great depth and underlying complexity”.
It is now the Singapore’s bartending fratenity’s turn to experiment with the gin, as one of 10 countries in the world where it will be available in limited quantities.
Sixteen participating bars – including Manhattan, Anti:dote and Jigger & Pony – will carry the gin from tomorrow.
Singapore was selected as the launchpad for Asia as Hendrick’s hoped the unusual combination would “really excite bartenders”.
“Some of the very best bars and bartenders in the world are in Singapore and so we felt like it was an incredible place to launch Orbium in Asia,” she says.
At Manhattan in Regent Singapore, for instance, bartender Tim Rosete has created a cocktail called Hen’s Party, which combines two classic cocktails – the sazerac and a gin and tonic.
Reminded of a sazerac upon tasting wormwood notes in Orbium, he made a cucumber tonic syrup to go in the drink, which has a dash of orange bitters as well. The cocktail will be available till the end of the month.
Over at Atlas in Parkview Square, recently named the Best Bar in Asia at the World’s 50 Best Bars awards in London, there will be a cocktail made with Orbium called the Atlas Gimlet on its permanent menu.
As for Ms Gracie, who was last year named Distiller of the Year at the World Gin Awards, she puts a twist on the gin and tonic by using soda instead of tonic water as the gin is already “quininated”.
“I enjoy it simply with the addition of soda water to let the bright clean character of the gin shine through,” she says.
“But also more unusually, I enjoy it straight with an ice cube much as one would sip a good malt whisky. The depth and character give a long flavour journey with an amazing finish on the palate.”
She says “gin is certainly enjoying a boom at the moment”.
But the brand is not resting on its laurels and has also released the small-batch, limited-edition Midsummer Solstice in the wake of Orbium.
The gin, which amps up the floral flavours and notes of the original Hendrick’s gin, is available in travel retail in key locations, including Singapore’s Changi Airport and London’s Heathrow Airport.
“From Hendrick’s point of view, we have a certain house style and a clear understanding of our liquid and our customers,” says Ms Gracie.
“We are, however, not complacent and are constantly reviewing new entrants to the category, but will only ever release liquids which stay true to our strong character and unique sense of identity.”
From tomorrow, Orbium gin cocktails will be available permanently at Atlas, IB HQ, Madame Fan, Nutmeg & Clove, Origin Bar and Oxwell & Co, and for a limited time at 28HKS, Anti:dote, Gibson, Idlewild, Jigger & Pony, Manhattan, MO Bar, Skai, Tippling Club and Barbary Coast.