Forget tea with the queen – these days you’re more likely to be offered a good drink. From artisan gin to vintage champagne, the best reserve port to craft beer, the list of boozy drinks sold by the royals keeps growing.
Just this month, Buckingham Palace released a fruit-filled blackthorn gin and a range of beers, including a gold IPA and a cold-filtered traditional bitter made with hops grown on the Sandringham Estate in Norfolk.
They follow the massive success of last year’s royal gin, which sold out within weeks of hitting the shelves of the Royal Collection Shop.
And what better way to celebrate summer than with a drink fit for the queen? Femail’s beverage expert HELEN McGINN puts the royal beverage car to the test. . .
Helen McGinn gives her verdict on a selection of drinks suitable for the Queen, including Buckingham Palace Gin (photo)
GIN WITH A KICK
Buckingham Palace Gin 70cl, £ 40, royalcollectionshop.co.uk
Beautifully packaged, the small batch dry gin is made with 12 botanicals grown and hand-picked in Buckingham Palace’s own garden, home to over 250 varieties of wildflowers.
On the nose you immediately get an explosion of citrus and juniper. Smooth on the palate, the lemon verbena gives it an almost lemon sorbet-like character. At 42 percent, there’s a comforting embrace of alcohol that lingers long after the flavors. Better than I expected, it’s good enough to sip on its own or serve with plenty of ice, topped with tonic and a thick squeeze of lemon zest. Make sure to turn the peel over the glass before dropping it in. 7/10
SWEET AND SPICY SLOE
Buckingham Palace Sloe Gin 50cl, £ 30, royalcollectionshop.co.uk
Helen said Buckingham Palace Sloe Gin (pictured) has a nice balance of sweetness and spice, cranberry and cherry fruit flavors
This deliciously soft blackthorn gin is the palace’s newest offering. Made from hand-picked blackthorn berries infused with Buckingham Palace gin, it smells of red currant fruit and spices with a hint of kirsch.
The taste is soft and smooth with a nice balance between sweetness and spice, cranberry and cherry fruit flavors. Crucially, it’s not too heavy or drizzly, so it delivers lots of warm, intense flavors, but still tastes fresh. At 26 percent, it is not as spicy as the dry gin, but it is dangerously drinkable. You have been warned. 8/10
Helen said Buckingham Palace Vintage Champagne 2011 (pictured) is buzzing fast
Buckingham Palace Vintage Champagne 2011, £ 40, royalcollectionshop.co.uk
The rather ostentatious label doesn’t reflect what’s in the bottle at all! Made by a small family producer based in the Marne Valley in Champagne, this blends the classic champagne grapes; Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier with a hint of Pinot Noir.
Although the grapes are from 2011, not the best vintage, it is in pretty good condition. Rich, toasty and balanced with delicate red fruit aromas and a hint of citrus, although it loses its fizz a little too quickly. 7/10
PASS ON THE PRICE PORT
Buckingham Palace Finest Reserve Port, £ 30, royalcollection shop.co.uk
Helen said Buckingham Palace’s Finest Reserve Port (pictured) has soft blackberry and Christmas pie flavors
Given the tradition of passing the harbor around the table, it’s no surprise that Buckingham Palace has Portugal’s most famous fortified wine on their list. It is a reserve gate, which means it is made from a mix of vintages. The port itself has soft blackberry fruit and Christmas pie flavors.
But since you can buy a Reserve Port in a supermarket for about a third of the price of comparable quality, this is a bit hard to swallow. Thanks, but I will pass. 3/10
Palace of Holyroodhouse Highland 12 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whiskey 20 cl, £ 30, royalcollectionshop.co.uk
Helen said Palace of Holyroodhouse Highland 12 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whiskey (pictured) is delicious on its own or with a splash of cold water
Her Majesty’s official residence in Scotland, Holyroodhouse, is at the end of Edinburgh’s Royal Mile. And just the scent of this heady Highland Single Malt Scotch Whiskey is enough to transport you to the hills and heather in seconds.
Smooth with notes of chocolate orange, spice and butterscotch, it is made from a mix of barrels and ages, but all from the same distillery.
Delicious on its own or with a splash of cold water if you want to take your dram further. 8/10
A PRINCICAL PINT
Duchy Organic Golden Ale 500ml, £ 2.10, Waitrose
Helen said Duchy Organic Golden Ale (pictured) is delicious and light with just enough hoppy flavors to satisfy without overwhelming the taste buds.
Not to be outdone, Prince Charles also runs an entire liquor store with its range of food and drink in the Duchy.
This Oxfordshire brewed Golden Ale is made with organic British Fuggles and Goldings hops, organic British wheat and malted barley. It’s wonderfully light with just enough hoppy flavors to satisfy without overwhelming the taste buds.
For every bottle sold, a donation is made to The Prince of Wales’s Charitable Fund, which has raised more than £ 30 million for charities since 2009. Definitely worth raising a glass. 7/10
A FINE ENGLISH ROSE
Highgrove Sparkling English Rosé, £ 32.95, highgrovegardens.com
Helen said Highgrove Sparkling English Rosé (pictured) is rich and toasty with delicious light strawberry flavors
Prince Charles’s Highgrove mansion near Tetbury in Gloucestershire also offers a range of food and drink and this Highgrove English Sparkling Rosé Brut Cuvee is a gem.
Made exclusively for Highgrove by a fantastic wine estate in Kent, Herbert Hall, this is a blend of the three classic ‘Champagne’ grapes. Rich and toasty with delicious light strawberry flavors and a hint of stone fruit, this is a lot better than most.
In fact, it is reasonably priced for the quality. A real treat. 9/10
TRY NOW THE CELEBRITY TEQUILA TRIED BY THE HUSBAND OF EUGENIA
Helen said Casamigos Blanco Tequila (pictured) is perfect in a margarita
Casamigos Blanco Tequila, £ 45, Waitrose
Casamigos was founded by a few friends, whom you may have heard of (hello, George Clooney), but Casamigos was just made for enjoying a tequila together when in Mexico. If you do.
It is now one of the most successful tequila brands out there. Their Blanco is made from 100 percent blue Weber agave grown in the highlands of Jalisco, Mexico and fits perfectly in a margarita.
The Queen’s granddaughter, Princess Eugenie, is married to Jack Brooksbank, the European manager. Perhaps one for the younger royal family. 7/10
Helen’s book, The Knackered Mother’s Wine Guide, is out now (£ 8.99, Bluebird)