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William Grant & Sons' Hendrick's breaks out of gin with absinthe brand extension - just-drinks comments

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William Grant & Sons has extended its Hendrick's brand beyond the gin category for the first time, launching an absinthe in the UK.

The launch of Hendricks Absinthe coincides with the brands 20th anniversary

The launch of Hendrick's Absinthe coincides with the brand's 20th anniversary

The company announced today that the 48%-abv absinthe will be produced in batches at its production facility in Girvan, Scotland, where Hendrick's gin is also distilled. A total of 4,000 units, comprising all of the first batch, will be available exclusively available to the UK on-premise channel.

Working from the traditional absinthe base of wormwood and star anise, Hendrick's Absinthe has five additional botanicals, including rose and its gin cousin's signature ingredient, cucumber.

"The world has moved on a lot since the heyday of absinthe and it's high time for this spirit to once again find its home … in some of the world's best bars," said Hendrick's global brand ambassador, Ally Martin. "We've reimagined absinthe as an incredibly complex, unique and interesting spirit: Not one to be feared for its strength, but to be used as a core component of today's array of contemporary, refreshing cocktails."

The expression carries a price point of GBP40 (US$51) per 70cl bottle.

When contacted by just-drinks today, a spokesperson for William Grant confirmed that the group intends for Hendrick's Absinthe to be a permanent addition to its portfolio, with a broader, "key markets" roll-out - focussing on the on-premise - expected from around April next year.

Hendrick's gin is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. The gin brand's stable was boosted this year by two extensions – limited edition Midsummer Solstice in February and Amazonia, a GTR-exclusive unveiled last month.

just-drinks thinks...

In its 20th year, Hendrick's is breaking out of its comfort zone, adding an absinthe expression to the gin stable. The move isn't as bold as it looks, though. Nor does it suggest dissatisfaction with the performance of the gin brand on William Grant's part.

Hendrick's has been a remarkable success story for the UK-headquartered group. More recently, as the gin boom has taken hold, the brand continues to hold its own among newcomers, refreshing its offering this year through the addition of extensions like Midsummer Solstice and Amazonia this year.

Had William Grant launched a Hendrick's vodka, for example, then William Grant could be justifiably accused of panicking. A niche product such as an absinthe, however, suggests fun is being had rather than alarm bells being heard.

Besides, with its 'Victorian-esque' positioning, Hendrick's works far better in absinthe than, say Tequila.

The industry may be bored of gin, but is the consumer? - Click here for a just-drinks comment


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