Product of: United Kingdom
Quinetum is a low alcohol quinine cordial designed to be mixed with gin and soda water as a replacement to tonic water in a G&T or used as a cocktail ingredient.
The eponymous Thomas Whiffen established his Battersea Quinine Works in the 1800s and was the first person to synthesise quinine, then a lifesaving new wonder drug against malaria, rather than extract it from the bark of the cinchona tree. As Quinetum says on the label: "After making a fortune in perilous substances [he'd previously made poisons], Mr Whiffen went on to achieve success with his Quinine Cordial upon which this very liquid is based."
The quinine used in Quinetum is derived from bark extract, but due to restrictions placed on quinine consumption by authorities around the world, distiller Lesley sources it from a specialist supplier which guarantees a consistent strength of extract. Tellingly, in the UK, the land of G&Ts, there's no such quinine level limit to worry about, but in countries such as America and Japan there is a maximum permitted level of 80 parts per million that can legally be used in a beverage. Quinetum boasts exactly that legal permitted maximum.
Quinetum is based on glycerine to provide mouthfeel, with citric acid giving the acidity people expect in a G&T. There's a small amount of sucrose, purely for legislative reasons - to call something a cordial in the United States it has to include sucrose or glucose as glycerine is not counted as a sugar. These ingredients would make a decent quinine cordial on their own, but for added complexity Quinetum also contains distillates of lavender and orange blossom to add top aroma notes alongside whole fruit orange distillate. Wormwood and a holly thistle extract made by Hendrick's distiller from infusions is also added. These infusions, which take three months to make, along with the distillates, give Quinetum a bottling strength of 4% alcohol by volume.
Hendrick's is famous for its packaging and Quinetum is no less distinctive. The inspiration for the bottle came from an old poison bottle found by Xavier Padovani, a former Hedrick's Global Brand Ambassador, in an antique store.
The first batch of Quinetum released in march 2013 is limited to just 4,308 bottles for worldwide [hand] distribution by Hendrick's Brand Ambassadors to bars which have loyally poured Hendrick's Gin. Presently, Quinetum is therefore purely a gift for bartenders, with no retail or wholesale distribution planned.
Review and Tasting
Sampled on 04/03/2013
Clear with very pale straw/golden hue.
Floral lime and orange zest with rose petal and lavender.
Intensely flavoured and bittersweet with slightly syrupy mouthfeel. Lime zest and quinine bitterness with sharp citric acid and subdued floral notes.
Lingering bitter tartness with lime zest citric acid bite. Mixed 15ml/12 oz cordial with 60ml/2oz Hendrick's Gin and topped with soda makes a refreshingly complex G&T.