Rare that we begin a brand description with a botanical description, but in the case of Piger Henricus its appropriate. The brand is inextricably entwined with its signature: the parsnip. Once used as a sweetener in Europe before the arrival of sugar. the Parsnip is a vegetable, often cooked, similar to a white carrot with a totally unique and different flavor. The gin is the child of a partnership of Patrice Fortier from La Société des plantes and the Subversives Distillers of Quebec.
The name actually means “Slow Harry” in Latin. It’s a reference to the furnaces used by alchemists/distillers in the middle ages.
Definitive vegetal character on the nose, with dill, carrot, and citrus rind all present. Once you hear the word Parsnip (the power of suggestion), you’ll pick it out in the dill/carrot aromas. Pine branches and a delicate juniper intimation area bit lower. This is some unique stuff.
The palate begins with citrus and juniper up front, with traditional notes of coriander and cardamom setting the stage before carrot and parsnip ushers in the finish. Medium long finish.
First we tried Piger Henricus in a Gin and Tonic, and the vegetal aromas and textures come through, albeit quietly, they’re the only notes that come through. Where did that delightful classic nuance go? It’s just your usual tonic with a slight parsnip edge.
I then tried Piger Henricus in a Bronx Cocktail. Can you believe this drink was once among the most popular in the world, on the same plateau as the Manhattan and the Martini? I digress. The orange and vermouth notes overwhelm, with citrus dominating. There’s a touch of something which might be cardamom down there in the lows, but you’re looking for it. It’s lost.
Finally, we had it in an Old Fashioned w/ Celery Bitters. After two disappointing cocktails, this was a revelation! Clean, herbal citrus on the nose, with hints of marjoram, basil, celery and carrot just underneath. Beautiful on the palate with lemon rind, coriander spice, all set you up for a parsnip tinged finish. In short, this is a testament to how finding the right cocktail can make the difference between paying too much for a gin you can’t taste or really experiencing the full vision of the distiller. Recommended.
When you’re on, you’re on. Martinis and Old Fashioned cocktails show off this gin’s eccentric side. It’s just not a bold mixer, losing a lot of its uniqueness and classic character in even simple cocktails. Buy this because you want to drink it neat or in spirit-forward cocktails. Classic gin fans will be pleasantly surprised here, as although I’d call the gin contemporary, it’s only gently stepping outside of bounds. There’s plenty here worth taking a closer look at, as the drink legitimately rises above novelty in terms of flavor profile. If it mixed better, we might be talking about a totally different level here.