Highclere Castle Gin is a London dry gin created by Lord and Lady Carnavron, owners of the 17th century castle where the PBS hit “Downton Abbey” was filmed. (To confuse matters, there’s a different product actually called Downton Abbey Gin.) Fittingly, the attractive blue bottle that houses the gin is marked by an image of the now-iconic country manor.
However, Highclere Castle’s connection to the gin is more than name-deep. Some of the botanicals used to flavor the spirit, such as juniper, lime flower, orange peel, and lavender, were plucked from the estate’s herb gardens.
The gin has a big, piney nose with plenty of juniper plus orange peel, ground black pepper, and a green, vegetal touch that reminded me of coriander. It begins sweeter than expected, with prominent lemon peel plus a sweet and creamy citrus note like orange creamsicle. The dry, spiced notes of juniper and pepper kick in at the middle, where the Christmas tree flavor is accented by the bitter earthiness of angelica root.
Though the back is loaded with dry black pepper, it also sees a resurgence of the sweet citrus cream that defined the first part of the experience. The finish is something like a peppered creamsicle with a spice factor that’s on the gentler side for a London dry gin.
This gin gets the essentials right, with a nice citrus presence in the mix, but it doesn’t provide much bite. It’s all right in a Gin & Tonic—the citrus comes through, but that the spice and pepper are overpowered by the tonic.
Highclere Castle Gin it’s a gentler, kinder London dry gin. If you find the likes of Tanqueray or Beefeater too aggressive and you want something lighter, it might prove a good choice. But if you’re looking for a more traditional bottle, you might come away disappointed.
— 43.5% ABV