The taste of juniper gives the signature note in every gin, from when you first savour the scent to the first taste. Of course, the very name Gin itself is derived from the French word for juniper genièvre. The plant once grew wild in some abundance throughout Europe, but it still grows over the ancient slopes of Beacon Hill in the centre of the Highclere estate.
Thought to help with various medicinal properties, it has a long heritage and juniper berries have been found in ancient Egyptian tombs.
Lavender has been highly regarded as an infusion since the middle ages. The lavender in Highclere’s gardens were planted by the Bishops of Winchester in the ninth century. It has a sweet fragrance with a taste of lemon or citrus note. It grows in profusion the very colour uplifting and a reminder of summer.
A long avenue of tall lime trees grows to the south east of the Castle extending for perhaps half a mile. There are few better places to walk in early summer, the scent of the flowers from these elegant pale trees draws every visitor towards them. Their flowers have long been valued for their health benefits and have been called the “nectar of kings”.
The tree has been considered a symbol of friendship since ancient Greece and Roman times. In fact, for many centuries judicial meetings in Northern Europe were held under a Lime tree because it was thought such trees would help unearth the truth in certain matters. The flowers are said to “Gladden the Heart” and we hope you will discern the faint note in our gin and discover they contribute to the delicious taste.
Highclere’s archives reveal that there was an orangery attached to the south-facing side of the Highclere House in the late 18th century. These were very fashionable at the time and it meant that exotic orange, lemon and lime trees could be established, and the fruit trees protected during the English winter. Whilst an orangery was and is practical, they were also a symbol of prestige and wealth - somewhere to impress their guests.
During the 19th century, the orangery was taken down and rebuilt in its present location behind the Monks’ Garden.
Orange trees are known to bear fruit in abundance for up to 80 years, although some venerable and ancient trees may still produce crops for years beyond that.
Orange peel, both fresh and dried, is an unexpected addition to our gin, delivering a clean sweet top-note to the gin.
Lady Carnarvon loves to use Cardamom in her recipes and cooking. It presents a warm with both spicy and sweet flavours. A little, however, goes a long way and it is one of the botanicals we have used (lightly!) in the gin.
Cardamom is a spice which originated in India with a distinct, slightly sweet flavour which has a hint of mint. Beyond the flavour, Cardamom was thought to have medicinal properties. The seeds have been used in traditional medicine for centuries. We have used green cardamom seeds which have a more minty resonance than the dark seeds which have a smokier taste.