Thursday, August 18, 2016

Darnley's View Spiced Gin with Walter Scott

If Sir Walter Scott had done gin marketing I'm pretty sure he'd have come up with something very like this:
“With renowned expertise for the production of fine wines and spirits, our gin is made from a family recipe and captures the moment in 1565 when Mary Queen of Scots spied her future husband, Lord Darnley, through the courtyard window at Wemyss Castle. From this marriage came a prince who later united the thrones of England and Scotland as James VI and Ist. We like to think of Darnley’s son, conceived through a union that began at Wemyss, as a symbol of our desire to combine the best of England and Scottish distilling to create a unique gin.” 
So it's appropriate that D bought me back this bottle from Scott country (if he will go to the Borders without me, a bottle of gin to return with is the least he can do...) I like to think that Scott himself would have enjoyed the cinnamon and nutmeg notes in this gin too, they're flavours that seem as at home in Sir Walter's time as they do in the sixteenth century.

For myself it's conformation that if it's not going to be all about the juniper, than a spice influenced gin will hit the spot (as far as personal taste goes I'm less keen on floral gins, subtlety is not apparently my thing in a drink). Dar let's View Spiced has an appropriately spice rack nose, is a pleasingly well balanced gin (quite smooth enough to drink nest, but good in a G&T, and apparently makes a very good negroni too, I've also seen it mentioned in connection to hot punches which will be something to explore in a month or two) and really follows through with its promises on the palate. The nutmeg and cinnamon are definitely there, not overwhelming, but unmistakably present, clove and ginger also play their part - overall the impression is of warm spiciness. It's a great addition to a gin collection - well made, and with something different to offer.

I think I'd drink this with just about any Walter Scott novel, not least because the descriptions of illicitly distilled whisky that I've read make it sound as much like gin as a modern day malt. The initial process of pot stilling is the same. Early moonshine type whisky wouldn't have had the years of ageing in oak casks which is where the colour and much of the flavour we now recognise comes from. But it seems it was flavoured in various ways to make it more palatable - though not with juniper, but still I think it would have been harder to tell the two spirits apart.

'Kenilworth' is the book that springs to mind, it's also the Scott I want to read next, but a hot gin punch would go just as well with 'Waverley', or indeed any of Scott's romantic presentations of Scottish history that I've read so far (and it seems safe to assume all the ones I haven't read too). Scott can be wordy, and slow going until you give in and decide to enjoy the pace he sets - which is probably why he's so unfashionable these days. Given the chance though he can also be deeply enjoyable to read, and he should be given the chance.


  1. Your gin series has been a tour de force. Something deeply satisfying about these pairings ... and I don't even drink gin .. though I may start.
    Many thanks.

  2. I find it quite satisfying to try and think of matches, and a useful way to remember and think about the gins. If I knew enough about tea I think that would be fun too... But mostly, thank you for your lovely comment.