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Hendrick's - Our trip to Scotland

In Gin Lovers Magazine VII we travelled through Europe for Gin, the stories and distilleries of London Nº1, G'Vine, Ferdinand's Saar, Sylvius Gin, Hendrick's and Martin Miller's in six countries and different cities.
Here we left part of our journey, to Scotland of Hendrick's.

Since Hendrick’s hit the market, Gin and the world that surrounds it will never be the same. Even Scotland will never be the same in our imagination. How can a black bottle, its label and talented marketing team change the way we see a country? In an unusually ingenious way!

The few days we spent in Scotland were intense and the famous Scottish friendliness was always present. I understood that at 6:47pm, when we arrived at Edinburgh Airport (Edinburgh they say “Edinbra”) and were met by two characters who, within a few short hours, would prove to be the best guides. When I say “characters” I mean it in the best sense. Tim Harfield and Dominic Le Moignan seem to have come out of a movie set in Victorian times (with that Hendrick’s “look”), but although flamboyant, not in an eccentric or flashy way. Or rather, they are dandy. Tim is not yet 30. He is nearly two metres tall, has a Morrissey hairstyle, and he’s from Manchester. Dominic (Dom, as he prefers) is a Londoner who sounds identical to Jason Statham. Curiously (or not, as we might later show), he is also an actor. They guide us to the bus that will take us to the hotel. It has tables in front of the seats and even before we start moving, there is already a Gin & Tonic (with cucumber) for everyone. The only rule is not to be embarrassed to have another one, not now, nor in the coming days. We have been introduced to everyone and all the rules. This will not be easy.
The pilot had warned us: “the weather in Edinburgh is not that great at the moment, as usual” and our journey to the G&V Hotel is made through rain that is more drizzle than heavy. We can see the night draw in beyond Grassmarket, where the Fringe Festival takes place in August (during which, these young men and Duncan McRae, who will join us tomorrow, presented The Hendrick’s Emporium of Sensory Submersion - which was an instant success). The Gin & Tonic is good and compensates for the  shortcomings of the day - the rain.

We went for a short walk to the historic centre, obviously to get another drink. The castle was shrouded in mist and Edinburgh assumed a Tim Burtonesque air. Suddenly, Hendrick’s imagery makes sense.
The Victorian age is alive in every architectural detail of Edinburgh, one of the few cities of this great island that did not suffer any bombing during the Second World War. We stopped at Panda & Sons, a basement with a centuries old aroma of dampness, for a Hendrick’s + Absinthe + Lime + cucumber + a Secret Ingredient cocktail and some improvised limericks,  then by The Bon Vivant pub for a Hendrick’s with lime juice and a few more pinches of secret ingredients. We walked through some bulldogs (the dog, not the game) that shared the bar with their owners (maybe this was the effect of the Absinthe). Then this typical Scottish day, as Dom called it, ended.

The crows were bouncing around the on the ground instead of taking off (it was early and the air is too cold for them to they can’t lift their weight from the ground) and we were already in the Edinburgh Botanic Gardens (one of the first in Europe), for a meeting with Max Coleman, the man who knows all the untold secrets of plants, from mere geographical curiosities to the most erotic details that involve bees and other bugs.
About the botanicals used in Hendrick’s Gin, he knows everything. Where they grow, how they influence palate after distillation - all we wanted to know and much, much more, all told to us with passion as we walk through a forest, one of those we are used to seeing in period films. And what could be better after walking through a typically Scottish forest? The Scottish pensioners’ sport of choice, of course! Unusual? Of course not! Unusual is to find ourselves inside Edinburgh Curling Club, the busiest ice rink in Europe, surrounded by friendly old ladies with whom we share conversations about gardening, birdwatching and also a delightful tea. There is a difference, though: our Earl Grey is a hot punch made with Hendrick’s with a good dose of spices that some big bearded men have prepared for us in a samovar.

We find ourselves starting our first ever game of curling a little bit drunk. We chose hats from a vast collection (bowler hats, top hats, deerstalkers like Sherlock Holme’s) to use on the rink while we sweep the ice. The stone we have to slide is huge, we fall over a lot, and there is plenty to give the old ladies a laugh. It must be because of the Earl Grey, of course. Hendrick’s Global Ambassador Duncan McRae joins us for the party. Yes, it is a party. There are even trophies and awards. I will never look at curling in the same way again. And now, I will always support Scotland against Canada.  Curling was invented in Scotland. Not everything is golf, here. Duncan tells me, while he eats a ham, mustard and, of course, cucumber sandwich, that his is the best job in the world. “It is Hendrick’s, for god’s sake. Silly, funny, intense.”.

Now the minibus takes us south. More Gin & tonic and bloody maries from a small traveling bar. We watch the green, beautiful and inspiring Scotland scenery out of the window. We are heading to the distillery, which is closer to Glasgow. That is only tomorrow, though. Today, much is still to happen, after we check in at the legendary Turnberry Hotel. When we finally got to Craigengillen Estate, the night is pitch black. The only light comes from the mansion windows and the stained glass of the main entrance, only just enough for us to recognise the two huge mastiffs (or were greyhounds? it was very dark) that receive us amiably. Suddenly, we step back a few centuries. And we haven’t yet walked in.
Inside, that sensation grows. It’s as if someone downgraded from a castle to something more humble but refused to dispose of any of the decor. There is red velvet everywhere, sinister oil portraits, embalmed owls in glass cases, all of which could be called eerie - an English term that sits somewhere between “ghostly” and merely “weird.” But it is not eerie. It’s just from the Victorian era, and thus, we are at home. In someone’s house. Someone lives here. A lady, who prefers to remain anonymous but who receives us for a dinner that she has cooked for her friend Duncan, this oh so well-connected young man.
For now, this property, all of it, all domes and extravagant furniture, is ours. Dinner only appears after we taste a few cocktails (the red-haired big bearded men from Hendrick’s are always present, they come from who knows where and stubbornly give us glasses filled with delicious things).
After dinner, friendships already sealed across terrines and platters and French wine, a fireplace invites us to another room. We spread out over sofas, chairs and armchairs, facing Dom who is on his feet and holding some books. Duncan is by his side and in front of him there are with some Hendricks bottles, lamps and test tubes. “The Genteel Tipple Through Gin in Literature” is what follows. In other words, Dom recites some passages that show that gin is inseparable from the rich Anglo-Saxon literature. He takes us chronologically through an historical background of the drink that brought us here. Duncan is in charge of preparing cocktails while Dom addresses them.
With Martinis, Martinez, White Ladies, all this is better than 3D movies, and much more fun, tasty and enriching. From the Victorian era to the Gin Craze, via the “Roaring 20s” where we see the appearance of the Dry Martini, Dom makes us fall in love with Dickens, Fleming, Amis, Goodwin. This is perhaps the highlight of the trip, although tomorrow there is still room to find the very core of everything. 

The huge William Grant & Sons complex is surrounded by an enviable landscape. It is at the epicentre of this loud bustle of loaded grain trucks that is the modest Hendrick’s Gin Palace - a surprisingly tiny distillery where the entire Hendrick’s production is centred.
In its warm and stripped interior, Lesley Gracie - responsible for all this - awaits us. She is instantly evidently an endearing lady. Her hobbies are taking care of her house, with its numerous dogs and numerous cats and her garden. But this Scot is the genius behind the Gin flavour everyone talks about. Before that, she worked in a pharmaceutical laboratory. Her work was to make medicinal syrups taste good to children.
With her pharmaceutical background, she was asked to create a Gin that would respect the historical genesis of the drink but, at the same time, to be as English as it is unusual. Leslie came to the conclusion that the ever present cucumber and roses of the island’s gardens were mandatory in its composition. The combination of the two flavours make this a unique distillation in the world. But there are many, many more ingredients, all from the best sources, each batch of which Leslie is keen to taste herself, saving the company money that would be spent on quality control. She is the one who opens the doors every morning, before seven o’clock.
She knows each one of these spice boxes very well, and also the two stills responsible for the humble 500 litre distillations (each batch), which ensures better control over product quality. There is the Bennet still, the heart, and the Carter-Head still, from 1870, which the director of William Grant & Sons bought at an auction, knowing that its genius design could “clean up” the poor quality distillation that was common at that time. Leslie then adds cucumber and rose infusions, once all the spices have been properly distilled (and tasted).
All the work behind one of the most brilliant gins at the moment is literally hand made, part of a great master work. Marketing plays a big role and it is a big weapon that places Hendrick’s as a product of excellence in a market that had seemed to be have been exhausted. But Leslie knows nothing about marketing (but loves the Queen) and after all she is the one we have to thank all of this.
And what better way to do it? Raise your glasses!

Ana Gil Art | dIAZ Words | Gonçalo Villaverde Pictures

Gin Lovers Magazine available at online store in physical and digital version

Junipalooza 2016

One of Gin’s biggest festivals in the world is back to London. On the 11th and 12th of June, you can taste 100 different Gin brands.
For the third year in a row, Junipalooza - Juni from Juniper and Palooza from party - is held at the British capital, this time at the Tobacco Docks, East London with more space for Gin and street food.
This year, the festival will be even more special. The first day - 11th of June - is also the World’s Gin Day.
It’s run by the Gin Foundry and will feature a record 40 distillers from around the world, along with music, food, a cocktail bar and masterclasses.
And that’s on top of hundreds of gins to sample, from over 42 different distilleries across 14 countries.
You’ll get the chance to try every single one of them, either neat as a shot or as a mini gin and tonic, included within the ticket price. There will also be stands from many of the industry’s favourite tonic waters.
Gins come from different countries such as UK, Portugal, Spain, South Africa, Germany or Belgium.
We will be there to tell you everything in detail in the next Gin Lovers Magazine edition.

1495 - the Oldest Gin in the World

Jean-Sebastien Robicquet’s Eurowinegate (EWG) - the G'Vine creator from France - invited international journalists for the official presentation in London of the oldest Gin recipe in the world. Gin Lovers was there.
The 1495 Gin was created from a formula discovered by spirits historian Philip Duff in Holland. It replicates Gin’s original recipe from 1495 (Verbatim) in two versions entitled Verbatim and interpretatio. The respective modernization (Interpretatio) already includes a citrus aftertaste but still does not have sugar. We are talking about a non-medicinal Gin that anticipates the spice route discovery, the rise of sugar in Europe and even the production of the first Geneva (the beginning of Gin).
The 1495 will not be sold commercially because of historical reasons. In an exclusive interview with Gin Lovers Magazine (Volume V), Robicquet confirms that the EWG’s project is a kind of legacy that does not belong exclusively to the maison Villevert G'Vine. This is more the result of the initiative of a heterogeneous group of international experts. Initially, the 1495 will be given to museums and offered to some of the most significant brands in the sector (including competition). The best is that you can see it live at Gin Lovers Principe Real (Praça do Príncipe Real 26 - Embaixada Concept Store, Lisbon).
At a later stage, it may be sold or auctioned. For now, the EWG only produced 100 boxes. So the limit is still not heaven.

Gin Lovers Magazine - Volume VI

Unfortunately, we still don't have a Gin Lovers Magazine in English. We are thinking about it, but it has not been possible yet. If you are really interested, please talk with us. Send us an email to Thank you The last Gin Lovers Magazine volume of 2015 is now available. In this issue we talk about Christmas (of course), but also about the gin scene in 2015 and what it will be like in 2016. The best part is the offer of a Beefeater24 miniature, and a Christmas supplement for the last minute shopping. Some of our highlights: Gin VIP with Paul Furtado - the Legendary Tigerman. A Food Pairing where we continue to combine gin with food. This time we invited chef Pedro Almeida from Viva Lisboa and Paula Marques from Barbatana, two godchildren from the Michelin chef Miguel Laffan. We spoke with Joanne Moore, the first Master Distiller of the world. We tasted the Eric Kayser juniper bread. We visited the Bulldog distillery in Manchester, visited Lisbon main rooftops and many other things. Discover all these stories on the volume VI available on Gin Lovers Principe Real store and online from 18th of December and on newsstands nationwide the 22th of December.

Gin Lovers & Less

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We want a bar that is not just a bar, a restaurant that is not just a restaurant, a shop that is not just a shop. We want Gin Lovers & Less to be a venue that shapes itself to the day and the night and, more importantly, to the people who will make it happen... you. Our signature Gin Store Food & leaves a space for your imagination to fill. There will always be something to be completed by whatever you want to bring.

This project is the result of Gin Lovers dream of creating a space 100% dedicated to Gin in the centre of Lisbon. It will be a signature venue in Portugal and unites all of Gin Lovers activities in one location - the Gin, the bar, the shop, the restaurant and the lifestyle.

The bar at Gin Lovers & Less will essentially, of course, be a Gin Bar, its list lovingly created by the Gin Lovers team, in which the big names in Portuguese and international gin will make for a selection of the best Gin and tonics and Gin cocktails of the world. The team will be available every day to suggest the Gin best suited to your tastes and alternatives for those looking for new discoveries and flavours, with or without alcohol. Schweppes, Gin Lovers Partner in this exciting new venture, will provide a constant supply of their range of mixers.

Gin Lovers Príncipe Real will now become the main Gin shop in Lisbon. You will find all the Gin Lovers merchandise, from glasses, kits, Botanicals, books, our magazine - Gin Lovers Magazine, tonics and of course, Gin.

The cookery will reflect our objective of working with the best quality Portuguese produce and the best Portuguese chefs. Less by Miguel Castro e Silva provides interesting and delicious experiences and find new ways to pair cuisine with Gin.

Gin Lovers Magazine? The first Gin magazine in the worl...

The first magazine in the world dedicated to Gin is 100% made in Portugal and by Gin Lovers. A Gin and lifestyle magazine - with Gin and a lot of people inside. Launched in April 2014, it has content exclusively dedicated to Gin and the world that involves the consumption and taste for this drink (bars, restaurants, travel, news, art and design). The Gin Lovers Magazine will always be identified as the first Gin magazine in the world that wanted a different presentation: new, fresh and visually appealing. A magazine thought and idealized in Portugal with the direction and editing by Miguel Somsen and art direction by José Lázaro. We give you unique and exclusive content from the Gin world including visits to distilleries, tasting events and more. You can find Gin Lovers Magazine in Gin Lovers stores and online store.

Celebrating the second anniversary, Gin Lovers Magazine is taking an important step in its growth, becoming available from now, in bilingual version (Portuguese/English) that will allow to reach other markets and people all over the world.