Last month, Hendrick’s announced the arrival of a new limited-edition gin called Orbium. While the original Hendrick’s Gin is famous for its essences of cucumber and rose, Orbium takes things a step farther with the addition of quinine, wormwood, and lotus blossom. Those first two are traditionally associated with classic gin cocktails—quinine found in tonic (Gin and Tonics) and wormwood found in vermouth (Martinis). The lotus blossom is meant to balance the overall flavor, creating a unique gin with surprising brightness and an uncommonly long finish.
Hendrick’s Orbium was created by Master Distiller Lesley Gracie, and was previously released in the UK in a small number of bars. Now, it’s available at select bars across the U.S., with the first batch totaling 5,000 cases.
In the past, Gracie has released extra-small-batch experiments exclusively to the bartending community, including 2014’s Kanaracuni Gin, which was inspired by her trip to the Venezuelan rainforest in search of exotic new botanicals and flavors. Now, with Orbium, Gracie is finally making one of those experiments available to the wider public.
Face-to-Face With Hendrick’s Orbium
Last week, I met up with Hendrick’s brand ambassador Matthias Horseman at the San Antonio Cocktail Conference to learn more about—and taste—the new gin.
Horseman credits Orbium, in part, to the new Hendrick’s distillery that was unveiled last fall. Dubbed the “Gin Palace,” it features six stills and gives the brand, and the distiller, more room to experiment. “It’s like a combination of Alice in Wonderland and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” he says. “Lesley now has a mad scientist lab where she can translate her thoughts into liquid.”
The thoughts that went into creating Orbium were predicated on creating something new that still reminds drinkers of their familiar pal, Hendrick’s. That’s why Orbium features the same 11 botanicals as its base. The addition of lotus blossoms provides that tell-tale floral finish you’ve come to expect, and the drinking experience is round and balanced.
Horseman mentions that he likes Orbium in sours, and says that it plays well with tea. While we were talking, he made me a Martini with five parts gin and one part split between Dolin Blanc and sherry. Though I usually reach for London Dry gins when making Martinis, the result was impressive. The sherry provided a particularly nice touch that played well with Orbium’s floral essence, and that five-to-one ratio kept the gin front and center.
With Hendrick’s shiny new distillery complete and a magician at the helm, I was curious to know what else we can expect from the gin maker.
“The new capacity and ability to innovate means you will be seeing some fun developments,” says Horseman. Pressed on when, exactly, these developments will come to fruition, he provides only a mysterious “at some point” in reply. Until that day comes, Orbium is here to keep your interest—at least until it runs out.
Hendrick’s Orbium is 43.43 proof, and you’ll find it priced around $30-35, the same as your regular Hendrick’s. For the best chance of finding it in the wild, swing through one of your better watering holes, and keep your eyes peeled for the striking blue bottle.