An Interview with Duncan McRae, Ambassador for Hendrick’s Gin

This year, Hendrick’s Gin is setting up shop at Eroica Britannia, serving up a lot more than just gin. We spoke to Duncan McRae, Global Ambassador for Hendrick’s Gin, about the festival, the ‘Boneshaker’, and his favourite part of Eroica.

Tell us a bit about Hendrick’s Gin

Hendrick’s Gin is a gin distilled in rather un-ginny Ayrshire on the west coast of Scotland. Our lovely little distillery is home to two types of antique copper stills that unitise two different methods to extract flavours from a symphony of the world’s finest flora and fauna. These two different liquids are blended together before being infused with the delicate essences of cucumber and rose to create what we finally call Hendrick’s Gin. This is indeed a rather laborious and somewhat time consuming method of production but the result is an oddly delicious gin!

What will you be doing at Eroica Britannia?

We’re bringing our Mobile Academy of Alchemical Meanderings (Ma’am) to Bakewell! She’s an old library bus that we saved from the scrapheap and spent the best part of a year converting into a glorious gin palace on wheels. We spend our summers lumbering around the United Kingdom popping up at the most unusual locations we can find! She comes complete with a beautiful gin garden which can host around fifty guests who can expect decadent cocktails, unusual diversions and exemplary table service and a whole host of unusual goings-on.

Additionally, we’ve partnered with Eroica to host the ‘Emporium of the Unusual’ which is a sort of arts tent, with everything from spoken word, interviews and book readings, to cycle-inspired cinema screenings to keep people’s intellectual curiosity piqued for the duration of the weekend. It’s an exciting, action-packed program with something for even the most curious minds. And finally, we’re excited to be serving the pre-dinner refreshments at the exclusive Movember ‘Homegrown & Handsome’ dinner, being cooked by the great Oliver Rowe – which takes place on the Friday night.

What made you want to support the festival?

Firstly, we were here last year and had such an incredibly fun weekend! We’re a small team and many of us love to cycle as it’s one of the few modes of transportation that has managed to remain civilised in the modern world. Secondly, we’d just completed work on a new invention: the world’s first pedal powered cocktail shaker (we call it the Boneshaker). This ludicrous contraption is a fully functioning bicycle that allows you to mix cocktails once you’ve arrived at your destination – ensuring efficient and effective post-ride refreshment needn’t be compromised on a jaunt to the country.

Have you created any special drinks for the event?

YES! A Whole host of them! We’ve split our menu into Pre Ride (non-alcoholic) and Post Ride (not non-alcoholic) and created a whole host of cycling themed refreshments to ensure that the cogs of social interaction are kept well lubricated for the entire weekend! We’ve worked with some of Britain’s finest bartenders (who love cycling) to bring a menu that has something for everyone, as well as bringing back some of the favourites from last year. Here’s the recipe for the “Boneshaker Gin Fizz” that we created especially for Brooks’ B1866 store opening last year in London.

40ml Hendrick’s Gin

20ml Fresh Lime Juice

10ml Apricot Liqueur

Dash Angostura Bitters

Topped Ginger Beer

Build all ingredients together over ice in a high ball glass and garnish with a slice of cucumber!

What are you most looking forward to at the festival?

What I love about Eroica is the incredibly friendly atmosphere that is created. It’s like a brand new and very friendly village has sprung up in the heart of the Peak District. The ride itself is stunning, but for me the best part is hearing everyone sharing their unique adventures on the Sunday night over a well-earned Negroni. Our bar was buzzing last year with raconteurs aplenty – we didn’t want to close at the end! I think there’s something really rather special about people coming together to share an amazing adventure like that.

Visit the Hendrick’s Gin website for more information.

Images courtesy of Hendrick’s Gin. Words by Angharad Jones

Sarah Atkinson

Sarah Atkinson

Writer and expert