From a pint to a gin, the Firm is turning its hand to tipples

Who needs the Queen Vic? From a Prince Charles pint to a Buck Palace gin, the Firm is turning its hand to tipples. So HELEN McGINN raises a royal toast

  • Buckingham Palace released a fruit-filled sloe gin and range of beers this month
  • Last year’s gin sold out within weeks of hitting Royal Collection Shop’s shelves
  • Helen McGinn gives verdict on a selection of tipples fit for the Queen

Forget tea with the Queen — nowadays you’re more likely to be offered a proper drink. From artisan gin to vintage champagne, the finest reserve port to craft beer, the list of boozy drinks sold by the royals is getting longer and longer.

Just this month, Buckingham Palace released a fruit-filled sloe gin and a range of beers, including a golden IPA and a cold-filtered traditional bitter made with hops grown on the Sandringham Estate in Norfolk.

They follow the huge success of last year’s royal gin, which sold out within weeks of hitting the Royal Collection Shop’s shelves.

And what better way to celebrate the summer than with a tipple fit for the Queen? Femail’s drinks expert HELEN McGINN puts the royal drinks trolley to the test . . .

Helen McGinn gives her verdict on a selection of tipples fit for the Queen, including Buckingham Palace Gin (pictured)

GIN WITH A KICK

Buckingham Palace Gin 70 cl, £40, royalcollectionshop.co.uk

prettily packaged, the small-batch dry gin is made with 12 botanicals grown and hand-picked from Buckingham Palace’s own garden, which boasts more than 250 species of wildflowers.

On the nose, you get an immediate blast of citrus and juniper. Smooth on the palate, the lemon verbena gives it an almost lemon sherbet-like character. At 42 per cent there’s a reassuring hug of alcohol that lingers long after the flavours. Better than I was expecting, it’s good enough to sip on its own or serve with lots of ice, topped up with tonic and a thick twist of lemon peel. Make sure you twist the peel over the glass before dropping it in. 7/10

SWEET AND SPICY SLOE

Buckingham Palace Sloe Gin 50 cl, £30, royalcollectionshop.co.uk

Helen said Buckingham Palace Sloe Gin (pictured) has a lovely balance of sweetness and spice, cranberry and cherry fruit flavours

This deliciously mellow sloe gin is the palace’s newest offering. Made from hand-picked sloe berries steeped in the Buckingham Palace gin, it smells of red berry fruits and spice with a kick of kirsch.

The palate is soft and smooth with a lovely balance of sweetness and spice, cranberry and cherry fruit flavours. Crucially, it’s not too heavy or cloying, so it delivers lots of warm, intense flavours but still tastes fresh. At 26 per cent it’s not quite as punchy as the dry gin but it’s dangerously drinkable. You have been warned. 8/10

Helen said Buckingham Palace Vintage Champagne 2011 (pictured) loses fizz quickly

RICH FIZZ

Buckingham Palace Vintage Champagne 2011, £40, royalcollectionshop.co.uk

The rather gaudy label doesn’t reflect what’s inside the bottle at all! Made by a small-ish family producer based in Champagne’s Marne Valley, this blends the classic champagne grapes; Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier with a dash of Pinot Noir.

Though the grapes are from 2011, not the greatest vintage, this is in pretty good shape. Rich, toasty and balanced with delicate red fruit flavours and a citrus edge, though it does lose its fizz a little too quickly. 7/10

PASS ON THE PRICEY PORT

Buckingham Palace Finest Reserve Port, £30, royalcollection shop.co.uk

Helen said Buckingham Palace Finest Reserve Port (pictured) has smooth bramble fruits and Christmas cake flavours

Given the tradition of passing the port around the table, it’s no surprise Buckingham Palace has Portugal’s most famous fortified wine on their list. It’s a Reserve Port, meaning it’s made from a blend of vintages. The port itself has smooth bramble fruits and Christmas cake flavours.

But seeing as you can pick up a Reserve Port in a supermarket for around a third of the price at similar quality, this is a little hard to swallow. Thanks, but I’ll pass. 3/10

DRAM-A QUEEN

Palace of Holyroodhouse Highland 12 yo Single Malt Scotch Whisky 20 cl, £30, royalcollectionshop.co.uk

Helen said Palace of Holyroodhouse Highland 12 yo Single Malt Scotch Whisky (pictured) is lovely on its own or with a splash of cold water

Her Majesty’s official residence in Scotland, Holyroodhouse stands at the end of Edinburgh’s Royal Mile. And just the aroma of this heady Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky is enough to transport you to the hills and the heather in seconds.

Smooth with notes of chocolate orange, spice and butterscotch, it’s made from a mix of casks and ages but all from the same distillery.

Lovely on its own or with a splash of cold water if you want to make your dram go further. 8/10

A PRINCELY PINT

Duchy Organic Golden Ale 500 ml, £2.10, Waitrose

Helen said Duchy Organic Golden Ale (pictured) is lovely and light with just enough hoppy flavours to satisfy without overwhelming the taste buds

Not to be outdone, Prince Charles also has a whole booze thing going on with his Duchy food and drink range.

This Oxfordshire-brewed Golden Ale is made using organic British Fuggles and Goldings hops, organic British wheat and malted barley. It’s lovely and light with just enough hoppy flavours to satisfy without overwhelming the taste buds.

For every bottle sold a donation is made to the The Prince of Wales’s Charitable Fund which, since 2009, has raised more than £30 million for good causes. Definitely worth raising a glass to. 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 gorgeous light strawberry fruit flavours

Prince Charles’s country residence Highgrove, near Tetbury in Gloucestershire, also boasts 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 gorgeous light strawberry fruit flavours and a touch of stone fruit, this is a cut above most.

In fact it’s pretty well priced for the quality. A real treat. 9/10

NOW TRY THE CELEBRITY TEQUILA PROMOTED BY EUGENIE’S HUSBAND 

Helen said Casamigos Blanco Tequila (pictured) is perfect in a margarita

Casamigos Blanco Tequila, £45, Waitrose

Founded by a couple of friends, one of whom you may have heard of (hello, George Clooney), Casamigos was created simply to have a tequila to enjoy together when hanging out in Mexico. As you do.

It’s now one of the most successful tequila brands around. Their Blanco is made from 100 per cent blue Weber agave grown in the highlands of Jalisco, Mexico and is perfect in a margarita.

The Queen’s granddaughter Princess Eugenie is married to Jack Brooksbank, the European Manager. One for the younger royals, perhaps. 7/10

Helen’s book, The Knackered Mother’s Wine Guide, is out now (£8.99, Bluebird)

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