After several years tinkering in the laboratory, Hendrick's Gin Master Distiller, Lesley Gracie has developed a new quinine cordial for bartenders. With just 9,600 bottles from the latest batch available across the world, the cordial will only be available to carefully selected bars across SA and is not available for retail.
Combining lavender and orange distillates with extracts of orange blossom, wormwood and holy thistle, Quinetum's core ingredient of cinchona succirubra bark is balanced for a more rounded and workable liquid. The recipe created by Lesley is inspired by the work of Thomas Whiffen, a pioneering mathematician and chemist who did much to develop the use of quinine in the 19th century. Crafted in Girvan, Scotland, home of Hendrick's Gin, Quinetum has a base of glycerol and a small amount of sugar syrup and citric acid. The product is 4% ABV.
Commenting on her latest creation, Lesley Gracie, HENDRICK'S GIN Master Distiller, said: "One of the joys of working for a family-owned company is the amount of freedom to work away on interesting little projects without huge pressure. Quinetum has been four years in the making, but it is only by speaking to the bartenders who come and visit us at the distillery and trying many different recipes of extracts and distillates that we learn what works. The unusual flavours of our gin appeal to a curiously pernickety drinker and so it is only right we take time before putting the Hendrick's name to anything else."
"What most bartenders will immediately pick up on is the orange nose, giving way to subtle lavender notes. The taste has a deep green, bitter flavour from the wormwood, holy thistle and, of course, quinine. Bartenders should find this combination amiable for crafting into cocktails with Hendrick's characteristic floral notes and spicy bitterness, which comes from the caraway seed and cubeb berries. As a result, we have a perfectly balanced liquid, not overly sweet like most cordials." added Lesley.
To illustrate the point, Hendrick's UK Ambassador Duncan McRae created the first cocktail to be made with Quinetum. He commented: "The classic G&T is as refreshing a drink as you're likely to find and this Quinetum Collins is similarly light, but also completely different to a G&T in all the best possible ways."
The new cordial is presented in a vessel modelled on a 1940s poison bottle discovered in an old London bric-a-brac shop. The word 'quinine' originally derived from the Quechua (Inca) word for the cinchona tree bark where quinine occurs naturally. The tree was named after a Countess of Chinchón, the wife of a viceroy of Peru, who, in 1638, was introduced by native Quechua healers to the medicinal properties of cinchona bark. More than 200 years later, Thomas Whiffen did much to develop the use of quinine and its related products at the chemical factory where he worked. He was responsible for coining the name 'Quinetum' for the 'Pure Alkaloids of East India Red Bark' at his factory, which was known as 'Quinine Works Battersea'.