From making tea as a toddler to Hendrick's Master Distiller, Lesley Gracie has always had a fascination with flora...
From an early age, Leslie Gracie was fascinated with the curious world of botanicals, and at just four years old the Yorkshire-born lass began serving her family teas derived from various plants and twigs!
She fine-tuned her interests for science and experimentation at the University of Hull, where she studied chemistry, and enjoyed more than a decade in the pharmaceutical industry before relocating to South Ayrshire in 1988 to marry.
A BIT OF HENDRICK'S HISTORY
Lesley joined the technical team at the William Grant and Son’s distillery – an award-winning, independent, family-owned distiller founded by William Grant in 1886 – as a chemist, where she worked across a number of areas including the development of flavours in whisky.
In 1999 she was approached by former chairman and great grandson of William Grant, Charles Gordon, to create an “ultra-premium” gin – Hendrick’s. She was appointed as the Master Distiller, and she went on to spearhead the development of the most unusual Hendrick’s Gin.
Her hard work and curiosity culminated in the discovery of the delicious and unique infusions of rose and cucumber, alongside 11 botanicals. This unusual recipe resulted in the Hendrick’s Gin known and loved by curious individuals here in Aotearoa and worldwide.
Apart from three other insiders, Lesley is one of few who knows the exact recipe for the extraordinary spirit created in her gin lab.
Her dedication to the gin industry hasn't gone unnoticed, and last year Lesley was inducted into the Gin magazine Hall of Fame.
Lesley's latest creation, Hendrick’s Lunar Gin, was inspired by a spot of midnight botanical gardening in her beloved hothouses at the Hendrick’s Gin Palace.
It's a peculiar and unusual gin, quite unlike any other; refreshing with an alluring complexity and delightful warmth best suited to being savoured as a sundowner or for night-sipping, moon-gazing and other sensible modes of contemplation.
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.