Another gin has generously winged its way to my door recently; Darnley’s View. In a striking flash of serendipity, I went to Scotland recently to watch the England-Scotland rugby match and tried to get hold of a bottle, but between poor stocks at the airport and a crammed social calendar, I failed in this mission. So, I was delighted to be contacted to ask if I would like a bottle. As is my usual stance, this isn’t going to win any favours or favourable reviews.
Another gin from Scotland, Darnley’s View Gin is from the stable of the Wemyss Family, usually better known for their malt whiskies.
The story goes that this gin is inspired by the moment that Mary Queen of Scots spied her future husband, Lord Darnley, through a window of the Wemyss ancestral home, Wemyss Castle. The literature that came with the bottle romanticises this event and triumphs their union as producing the future King of both England and Scotland, James (I of England and VI of Scotland). Like their gin which unites the best of Scottish and English gins, James unified the thrones of these two countries.
However, what the literature doesn’t say is that Darnley became arrogant and paranoid; he developed a jealousy of Mary’s private secretary, David Rizzio, which culminated in him murdering the poor chap in front of a pregnant, and somewhat aghast Mary. The meeting, marriage and murder spanned a mere 13 months. It is thought that Mary then had the Earl of Bothwell kill Darnley, two years to the month since she fist laid eyes on him. Mary Married Lord Bothwell later that year and suffered a string of tragedies and humiliations, culminating in her botched execution in 1587.
Anyway, enough of the history lesson, I dropped a bit of an unexplained clanger a few paragraphs back; a gin that unites the best of Scottish and English gins? Well, Darnley’s View is a London dry gin, produced by a Scottish firm, the distillation of which is contracted out to Thames distillery, in London. A cynic might say that this is a purely a London gin with a Scottish label, but the there is a distinctive “Scottishness” about this gin; but more on that later.
The bottle is beautifully presented; an elegant white label with sparse black print and a red accent-logo adorns heavy-bottomed, round-shouldered glassware. The Bottle tapers in from the shoulder, much like a cocktail shaker. The stopper is cork with a wooden top (beech?) and it is sealed with heavy foil. Predictably, the opening experience was pleasing.
The botanical list of Darnley’s View is fairly short; in fact, refreshingly short at only six botanicals.
- Coriander Seed
- Lemon Peel
- Angelica Root
- Orris Root
Elderflower seems to be a fairly popular botanical, making an appearance in a few gins from Scotland as well as in several from farther afield; it offers sweetness, fruitiness and floral notes all in one neat hit and is native to the UK.
The aroma of Darnley’s View is gentle and sweet. There is juniper there, but it is mild and the smell of alcohol is present. Its scent is somewhat understated.
Sampled neat, Darnley’s View is sweet, spicy and floral with a quite long, dry finish. It’s smooth and that alcoholic twang is well contained – a testament to its pentuple-distillation, no doubt.
In a G&T, Darnley’s View is a blinding mix (in a good way, not a Ginebra San Miguel way). The juniper is gently assertive – smooth and gentle, but certainly not taking a back-seat. The attack is sweet, fruity and floral with just a hint of that delightful lychee flavour that is carried by Elderflower. This quickly mellows to a warm, dry and spicy finish. The bite is there, but like the juniper, it is gentle but firm.
The ratio recommended for this gin is 2:1, but to my mind, this is too cloying; the sweetness of the neat gin is overbearing and the Fever-Tree tonic is swamped. In a 3:1 ratio, the sweetness of the gin and bitterness of the tonic water balance nicely. I would encourage anyone to have a play and find their own sweet-spot.
Another note about getting the most out of a Darnley’s View G&T is, that like Sipsmith, it is completed by lime. Whether this is to balance that sweetness or whether the gin demonstrates a dearth of citrus is probably up for debate. Either way, lime makes the G&T.
Its price-point is about right (around £23) and it has a softness that is common to many Scottish gins – whereas the more traditional London Dry gins are forthright, bold and dry, Scottish gins seem to have a sightly softer countenance about them. It’s an easy drinking gin (both in flavour and strength – 40%) without meandering too close to that wishy-washy vodka-gin categorisation.
All-in-all Darnley’s View is a very pleasing gin and one I will hunt-down again.