Firstly, fans of Downton Abbey (like yours truly) will recognize the name. Yup, Highclere Castle Gin is named for that Highclere Castle— the one you can visit and see the rooms from the show. But I digress, let’s talk about the gin.
Highclere Castle Gin is distilled at the Langley Distillery on a copper pot still that dates back to the 19th century. The inspiration for the botanical blend is the castle’s herb garden. Two of these are unusual and worth a closer look.
Oats have been grown at the estate since— sources say— the 13th century. The chalky, high calcium soils of the estate lend their oats a very specific character. Note, these oats are part of the botanical blend— not the base spirit.
Second is the lime flower. Citrus fruits don’t grow wild in the UK. These are the flowers of a genus of trees best known as Linden. Widely grown across much of Europe, these trees were an important part of indigenous medicine and modern perfume craft. Some love the smell, while to others they are an acquired taste. The flowers in this gin are sources from the Highclere Estate.
Highclere Castle Gin begins with a creamy, juniper led quintessentially classic nose. To me, it’s Beefeater-like. The big difference may be that in addition to classic juniper + creamy bitter orange zest nose, there’s a hazy, magnolia and linden flower in spring aroma that lends a complex, warm floral glow.
The aroma is proof that just because the botanical blend veers contemporary, it doesn’t mean the aroma can’t be classic.
The palate is where I’m absolutely wowed.
Highclere Castle Gin is juniper led with a classic palate. Pine and herbaceous juniper are present throughout. The citrus is subtle and bitter— it grows in intensity with a dull throbbing bitter orange flavor that almost sings(!) on the back of the palate on the finish.
The floral notes are muted and true to the nose. Rather than a fresh bouquet, you get a jasmine/musky angelica glow. It adds a lot of depth to the palate, while never pulling you away from that classic juniper core.
The finish is long and warm— but not astringent. There’s a remarkable tenacity in these botanicals.
Highclere Castle Gin presents itself in a vivid, unique colored bottle that is sure to draw attention on the store shelf and bar back. Bartenders can embrace Highclere Castle Gin as a high end classic style gin. It mixes like a wonder. I found nothing it didn’t work well in. The Martini was my favorite, but it was hard to justify when the spirit itself had a texture and flavor that was good enough to just sip neat.
Overall, Highclere Castle Gin
Highclere Castle Gin is one of the best classic gin releases of the last few years. It uses an eclectic set of botanicals with a good story— all the while creating a delectable juniper-forward product that mixes well and can be sipped on its own.
This is one of those rare products that comes in for review and I need to stop myself from drinking it all before I get to the review. I liked it that much.