You may or not be a fan of The Crown, the latest must see hit mini-series from Netflix. We already know that the Queen is a big gin fan. According to inside reports, Her Maj is partial to a little sharpener of gin and dubonnet before lunch. Her eldest son, Prince Charles on the other hand is more of a G&T lover. In fact, royal insiders confirm that whenever the Prince goes on a royal tour, he takes his own booze with him. According to royal security reports, it’s bottles of gin for Charles and red wine for Camilla. While this might be seen as a touching gesture of frugality from a wealthy Prince, in fact it’s a security protocol to make sure that their drinks aren’t spiked.
Either way, this year saw a royal double. Both the Queen and Prince Charles joined the boutique/craft gin revolution. Each of them separately released their own branded gins, made from ingredients mainly sourced from their gardens. The Queen’s brew is called Buckingham Palace Gin and the Prince’s brand is called Highgrove gin. All ingredients have been sourced directly from his organic kitchen garden.
So, in the battle of the royals, who has the best gin?
Buckingham Palace gin: 42% ABV
This delicious spirit comes in an absolutely gorgeous bottle that would look good on anybody’s drinks trolley. The delicately angled and beautifully decorated bottle is made out of turquoise glass and features a golden wreath on the front, intertwined with a pretty array of wildflowers. Presumably, these are some of the 250 different types that are said to grow in her 16 hectare central London back garden. Most of the time, we only get to see it during garden parties and royal celebrations, but apparently in addition to all those flowers, there are also around 250 species of birds to keep the singing going all year round. Turn the bottle around and the flower theme continues on the back side, framing a beautiful engraved perspective of the Buckingham Palace facade. Enough to make the spirits of any true royal fan soar!
Many of the botanicals in the Queen’s gin have been directly sourced from the Palace gardens including lemon, verbena, hawthorn berries and mulberry leaves. The result is a delicious gin with prominent citrus and herbal top notes to balance the strong juniper base. The good news is that it will be served at royal engagements throughout the year, so get yourself on the guest list now. When it was first launched earlier this year, it sold out online within 8 hours, but it’s back and available for around £40 per bottle (2 bottle minimum). All profits from Buckingham Palace gin will go directly to The Royal Collection Trust which helps to fund the care and conservation of the Royal Collection. We’re not sure how involved the Queen was in developing the gin, but we’re sure she’ll love it with a little dubonnet and ice.
Highgrove Organic London Dry Gin: 40% ABV
Not to be outdone, her eldest son has also created his own brand Highgrove Organic Botanic London Dry gin. It comes in a plainer, less glamorous bottle than his mother’s gin featuring a simple white label crowned with the Prince’s royal symbol, the fleurs de lys. Prince Charles has long been an advocate for sustainable living and all of the botanicals in his gin have been grown in the Prince of Wales’ own kitchen garden at Highgrove, in the beautiful Gloucestershire countryside. They include lavender, sage and thyme, delivering a distinctive taste and flavour profile.
While juniper and citrus are the flavours that predominate here, the lemon verbena, thyme and rosemary come through on the top notes to create a delightfully tasting, elegant London Dry gin . The gin has been distilled for the Prince by master distiller Cory Mason who wanted to create a gin with the herbal notes of a traditional English garden. The result is a delicious, versatile gin suitable for any occasion – royal or not. All proceeds from the sales of Highgrove gin go to support the Prince of Wales’ Charitable Fund to develop meaningful projects in the areas of education, the environment, social inclusion health and wellbeing.
And the winner is…
We really couldn’t call this one (and we didn’t want to upset the royals) so to avoid a diplomatic incident, we’ve called it a draw. On looks and style, Buckingham Palace has the edge for sure, but it’s a little more expensive than the Prince’s version. But on taste, complexity, authenticity and price, Highgrove wins. However, don’t take our word for it, get a bottle of each and try them next to each other while watching The Crown. And let us know which one works best for you.