Darnley’s view gin (alike many other gins on the market) desires to create a sense of place on your palette. We’ve covered many gins that accomplish this to varying degrees. Caorunn worked to create that vision by choosing a whole slew of native botanicals; Seneca Drums, whose distillery is located in wine country created that vision by stacking traditional gin botanicals on top of a grape spirit base, and yet others (and this is where Darnley’s view come in) take a more abstract approach to that sense of place. Though one of the non-traditional botanicals (Elderflower) does grow wild on the Scottish countryside, the view isn’t told only through the names of the ingredients. The makers of Darnley’s view are telling a more complete story through the experience of their drink. First, a brief foray into history, then on to the drinking.
“Our family name, pronounced ‘Weems’, comes from the Gaelic word for caves which stems from the rocky outcrop on the Firth of Forth on which our family home, Wemyss Castle, sits. Our gin is made from a family recipe and captures the moment in 1565 when Mary Queen of Scots spied her future husband, Lord Darnley, through the courtyard window at Wemyss Castle.” [for the full story…]
Darnley’s view boasts a modest six botanicals: Juniper, Lemon Peel, Elderflower, Coriander, Angelica Root, and Orris Root. Rare among gins is a gin where I think each of the botanicals is present and detectable on the palette. Five of these botanicals should seem familiar and make up the base of most classically styled gins. Elderflower is the point of difference, and it does stand out.
First, a note on the nose. A surprisingly mild but pleasant juniper smell. The nose is not very strong, but it is very nice.
When tasting the full combination of the flavors come out. At first you can definitely experience a distinct floral note on the tip of your tongue. As the gin rolls back through your mouth you get the decisive flavor of lemon which then mellows a warm and slightly sweet juniper aftertaste. The aftertaste is drying, but not harsh. The simplicity of the dryness allows the individual flavors of the angelica and orris root to make themselves heard quietly. Its a remarkably smooth gin, with not very much burn.
I was concerned when I heard the word ‘elderflower’ as a botanical. Though native to Scotland, Elderflower is probably best known by drinkers for being the primary flavoring in the ubiqitious St-Germain liqueur. Elderflower is one botanical that I would have classified as a trend/fad. Darnley’s view incorporates the botanical smoothly into the mix. Its there, but it doesn’t bring any of the strong over-the-top Elderflower notes that you may think of when you think of St-Germain. Its nicely balanced: just strong enough to be floral, but not so much that its overpowering.
Darnley’s view is a versatile gin for sure. The floral notes can be accentuated and played up. Darnley’s view makes for a very favorable aviation or aviation style cocktail. It pairs very nicely with the floral notes of Creme De Violette, but has enough juniper to not be lost in the mix. It makes an excellent gin and tonic and as I mentioned already, its smoothness lends itself very nicely to martini drinking. The only cocktail which I thought did not do this gin justice was the Hair of the dog Cocktail, as I guess not every gin, and especially not one with a floral taste such as this one, can go well with Tabasco sauce.
Overall, this is a wonderful gin. I have to thank the fine folks who work with Darnley’s gin for getting me a sample to try out and taste for the blog. I enjoy the clear way each ingredient makes itself known and how well they balance out during the long smooth finish.
Best consumed: Top notch in martinis, aviations, and pretty much anything else you can find.
Availability: Starting to see it in more place in the states. The larger liquor store near you likely already has it. Also available widely online in the states.
Rating: Balanced with enough unique notes to stand out in a crowded market.