- Jonathan Winters
Highclere Castle Gin Review
Updated: Oct 11, 2020
A gin inspired by a garden at the real Downton Abbey.
Review Highclere Castle Gin
Made in: England by Langley Distillery
Copper still distilled.
43.5% alcohol/87 proof
Botanicals 10: Juniper, lavender, lime flower, orange peel, angelica root, licorice, coriander seed, Cassia, lemon peel, and oats,
Style: Classic London Dry
Now I don’t know a thing about Downton Abbey - which happens to be the actual structure known as Highclere castle (Featured quite prominently on the bottle), but I do know a thing or two about gin, and this is a good one which should be in any gin drinker’s arsenal. The style is classic Juniper forward London Dry, like a good Tanqueray or Beefeaters, but elevated to the point where it can even be enjoyed neat, without even ice. In a cocktail, this approaches high art as far as London dry goes. It’s familiar, but decidedly different in many ways.
Now I love a gin that can be enjoyed straight up (or better yet on the rocks) and this one qualifies as a true sipping gin. It’s got complexity, simplicity and mouthfeel that says “thank you sir, may I have another?” on a fairly regular basis. It’s just that good with the bare minimum of the astringent taste that plague so many gins.
The botanical mixture isn’t far from a classic London dry, and while the makers proudly state the botanicals are inspired by the gardens of Highclere Castle, they are just that , inspired. The citrus comes from far away, but that’s an expected botanical. The stars here might well be the secondary, or even tertiary ones. Once you get past the juniper and citrus, the flavors of lavender, and the mouthfeel added by the oats, which are added in the botanical mix, offer a depth, and long lasting aftertaste, which is remarkably pleasant.
The mouthfeel is light with just a hint of oiliness, just enough to coat the palate (and a glass) remarkably well.
While The Highclere Castle folks tout this as a “Super Premium” gin, those words are really just puffery - advertising lingo to make a product look good, (like the word “handmade” which sadly also has no legal meaning behind it) but this is a gin which backs it up in flavor and complexity.
While it certainly is only one of a handful of gins that stand out without mixers, and can be truly enjoyed and sipped, it can inspire and elevate most gin cocktails. In a martini, or G & T, or even served with a bit of muddled mint, or with a drop of good bitters, it’s really a standout.
That said, its characteristics are a bit overwhelmed in cocktails, like the Negroni, or Tom Collins, where the flavors of the mixers is very strong, and the gin is not the true star of the drink.
Floral 2.5/5 (love that lavender)
Overall rating: 96. There aren’t many London Dry gins that are honestly this good. For any fan of the classic London Dry botanical mix, this is a gin you’ll enjoy.
What you need to know about reviews: All my reviews are my honest opinions based upon my own personal tasting. I am NOT a paid reviewer, and no compensation was given, or expected. I may from time to time choose to do a second review and amend my opinion of a product, should I feel like it, and find my review criteria has evolved, or that I’ve found it different at a later date. That said, as I’m unlikely to repurchase anything I thought was less than very good to excellent, it would be by chance or at the request of a distiller who though I rated them very unfairly - BUT even then, whatever you get will always be my honest opinion.