LONDON, JULY 15: Times are hard and even the Queen has been forced to go into the booze business, flogging home-made gin for £40 for 700ml, when the supermarket price for a litre bottle of, say, Gordon’s Gin, is half the price.
The good news is that without a single penny spent on advertising, Tuesday’s newspapers gave the launch of the royal gin acres of space, with the Daily Telegraph devoting the best part of page 3 to its report, “Palace to sell £40 gin made from Queen’s own garden”.
But the spirits of its own Wine Correspondent, Victoria Moore, weren’t quite lifted by taking a sip from what must have been an advance bottle couriered to her.
“Of course, at the heart of every gin you will find the pine-like scent of juniper,” she said. “Legally speaking, a gin is not a gin unless its dominant flavour comes from the dark, bitter, woody berries harvested from this coniferous tree or shrub. But distillers love to play with the botanicals ~ the peels, berries, roots, barks, flowers and herbs ~ that riff alongside the juniper.
“Sensitively used, botanicals can transform the perfume and flavour of a gin. Increasingly, they are also entrusted with the bigger role of conveying a sense of place.”
“And to taste?” she sniffed. “Not making it into any of my must-try or favourite gin lists, I’m afraid. The nose is more towards the herbal and citrus range of flavours and lacks the warm juniper punch that I seek out in a London Dry. It’s more attractive on the palate but still not winning my vote. Serve with patriotic spirit and a sprig of lavender.”
That said, the clear and turquoise bottle itself is an enticing collector’s item, featuring a ring of flowers and a coronet with “Small batch dry gin” written on the front.
On the back is a sketch of Buckingham Palace, and the explanation, “Hand-picked botanicals from Buckingham Palace’s exceptional garden have been combined to create this unique and flavoursome gin”.
The Queen herself is a fan of a gin cocktail. A few years ago, former royal chef Darren McGrady told CNN: “She likes a gin and Dubonnet. That’s her favourite drink.”
The Royal Collection Trust has launched the gin in its shops, and the spirit will also be served at future official events at Buckingham Palace.
The gin can also be bought online: “Presenting the launch of our Buckingham Palace gin. The spirit has a unique royal origin, with many of its citrus and herbal notes sourced from botanicals gathered in the Buckingham Palace Gardens.
“Lemon, verbena, hawthorn berries and mulberry leaves are among the 12 botanicals hand-picked for the gin in the Gardens at Buckingham Palace, which span 16 hectares and provide a habitat for 30 species of bird and over 250 species of wild flower.
“For the perfect summer thirst-quencher, the recommended serving method is to pour a measure of the gin into an ice-filled short tumbler before topping up with tonic and garnishing with a slice of lemon.”
All profits from sales of the gin will go to the Royal Collection Trust, a charity which maintains and displays the large collection of royal artefacts from artwork to furniture held in trust by the Queen for her heirs and the nation.
The trust is seeking voluntary redundancies among its 650 staff and has taken out a £22 million loan after predicting losses of £30 million over the next year because of the closure of its sites during the Coronavirus pandemic.