From an early age Lesley Gracie was fascinated with the curious world of botanicals, and at the tender age of four, Yorkshire born Lesley began serving her family teas derived from various plants and twigs. Years later, that childhood fascination has blossomed into a full-time career distilling one of the world’s most unusual gins. As Master Distiller at the Hendrick’s Distillery, Lesley Gracie’s genius lies in her fascination with flavours and how they work together and there’s no doubt that the proof is in the pudding as Hendrick’s Gin has stolen the hearts of the most vanguard of gin drinkers the world over.
Lesley, alongside fellow Master Distiller at William Grant & Sons, John Ross, crafted the recipe for Hendrick’s Gin in 1999 and it wasn’t long until the gin became a worldwide success thanks to its infusion of cucumber and rose essences delivering a taste like no other gin. A chemist by trade, Lesley moved to Scotland, from Yorkshire to join the company in 1988 and says the creation of the award-winning Hendrick’s Gin has been a real highlight in her career to date. Rather amazingly, Lesley is only one of four people who know the specific recipe of the 11 different botanicals that go into making the gin, a secret she is sure to keep close to her chest.
Working in a male-dominated environment at the remote distillery in Girvan, a small village in the south-west corner of Scotland hasn’t been a problem for the Yorkshire-born lass. Her nose is rated as one of the finest around and it is clear that she can hold her own against some of the best Master Distillers in the world. Known for her attention to detail, Lesley ensures that Hendrick’s is handcrafted in minuscule batches at a time – this enables her to fine-tune the distillation process and produce a high-end gin every time.
But she doesn’t rest on her laurels – Lesley has an experimental approach to distilling and constantly looks to push the boundaries of gin with new botanicals and infusions. Lesley continues to innovate and consequently, her laboratory is home to some strange plants which she experiments with to see how they nose, taste and fit with other flavours. Since the discovery of Hendrick’s Gin, Lesley’s innovations have included premium liqueurs, bitters and other limited edition liquids including the likes of Hendrick’s Kanaracuni, Quinetum and Battersea.
And her favourite way to enjoy a tot or two of Hendrick’s? The Hendrick’s English Garden of course – a beautiful cocktail infusing Hendrick’s Gin, with pressed apple juice, lime juice and St-Germain Elderflower liqueur, garnished with cucumber slices – “a refreshing taste of summer”, says Lesley.
Find out more about Lesley Gracie and Hendrick’s Gin at www.hendricksgin.com.