Orbium is available at select bars across the country.
Hendrick’s Gin, among a growing crowd of premium modern gins, has always been forceful about its commitment to creating a gin that prides itself in ‘not being for everyone.’ Their master distiller, Lesley Gracie, has been the architect behind Hendrick’s unique flavor profile, which straddles the line between a juniper-forward dry gin and a more floral sweet gin. Their newest on-premise-only release jumps enthusiastically into the flowerbeds: Hendrick’s Gin Orbium, made with, among other things, quinine, wormwood, and lotus blossom essences.
Gracie also constantly seeks out new herbs, botanicals, and ingredients to sharpen and refine her idea of Hendrick’s and the innovation the company strives for. That drive resulted in Hendrick’s first limited, on-premise-only release, Kanaracuni. However, unlike Kanaracuni, which was only available in sample quantities, Orbium is finding its way to bars across the country.
The best comparison to Orbium, of course, would be Hendrick’s standard offering. Their regular bottling is a softer style of gin than some of its more traditional competitors — while it retains the pine-y, juniper-driven character of a London dry gin, it’s softer and more floral, thanks to the addition of both rose petals and cucumber during distillation. It’s certainly more than drinkable, but its 44% ABV gives plenty of agreeable heat at the back of the throat.
Orbium departs from that juniper smell at first sniff: if you didn’t know what lotus smelled like before, you certainly will now. A distinct floral character with only a hint of pine defines the nose — and provides an intriguing departure from more ‘normal’ gins. However, that bouquet gives way to ingredients that have been paired with gin for ages: quinine and wormwood. Quinine is what gives tonic water its distinct, bitter taste; what we love about a good Gin & Tonic on a hot summer’s day. Wormwood is often found as an aspect of vermouth, which is an important ingredient in the cocktail of cocktails, the Martini. Because of those two, Orbium feels like you’re drinking both on separate sips. Am I going to taste the Martini, or the G&T? As it finishes out, the lotus essence reminds you of its presence as the warmth spreads through your chest.
For me, standard Hendrick’s is a good all-around choice, both as a main event and a mixer. Orbium’s lotus component pushes it past everyday usefulness though. With its unique flavor profile, it’s better as a spirit in cocktails that want to showcase the booze, as opposed to those designed to hide it. In a G&T, for instance, it loses its definition and combines a little awkwardly with the additional quinine in tonic water. But if your favorite cocktail bar can get their hands on a bottle (so far Orbium is only sold to bars, not retail shops), absolutely have them mix you a martini with it. It’s an experience you won’t forget.
Hendrick’s Gin Orbium is available at select bars and restaurants throughout the country.
Update: A previous version of this article incorrectly identified one of the ingredients as blue lotus instead of lotus blossom essences.