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We were very interested to discover that gin royalty Desmond Payne at the fabulous Beefeater have re-released Crown Jewel, a gin that was originally created for the duty-free market in 1993. It was launched quite quietly in December and we obtained a supply last week. We were lucky enough to chat to Desmond who explained that the recipe is exactly the same as the original version (which we gather from the interweb is the 9 Beefeater botanicals plus grapefruit).

crown_jewel_blogWe happen to be in possession of a stock of the original Crown Jewel as we do stock a range of vintage gins and so we thought we would try the two side by side to see exactly what effect 23 years of bottle ageing does to a premium gin. #CrownJewel #50%abv #happymonday . And so onto the tasting.

On the nose the orignal 1993 had a good strong nose with pine camphor notes leading a warm spice under tone, very pleasant indeed. The 2016 batch however was a vigorous vibrant upstart being a bright heady, perfumed aromatic citrus.

Tasted neat on ice, the 1993 leads with zingy grapefruit peel citrus with quite a high acidity, which yields to a tounge-grabbing tingly dry spice which rounds out to pleasant sweet (liquorice/almond) linger. It is quite hard to describe the notes, however it is altogether satisfying and can be characterised as being round and sweet / smooth. The 2016 has a different character, a bold grapefruit citrus lead yields to a strong juniper dry spine which flows to a sweet linger. It has to be described as perfumed citrus, round and creamy, an excellent gin.

With tonic, as expected the citrus notes open out in both, the 1993 is citrus led with a dry juniper bite and a sweet linger, what was interesting is the tonic brought out the angelica on the nose. The 2016 is vigorous and vibrant, with a perfumed citrus heady lead, a juniper spine and a more subtle sweet linger with a lovely creamy mouth feel.

And so what do we conclude? The recipe is the same, and the notes are the same but there is a difference. It is clear the more volatile lighter botanicals have reduced in the bottle in the 1993 batch and so the profile is weighted towards the heavier constituents, the angelica, licorice, juniper notes – the resulting gin is most gratifying, but weighted to the spice and liquorice round sweetness.  With the 2016 the citrus (grapefruit, Seville orange) and floral (orris) notes sing out vibrantly with a more vibrant, creamy experience.

Both are superb and it is a testament to Desmond’s skill that he created a gin that meets the fancy of a gin lover, both fresh from the still and after 23 years in the bottle. You can of course, sample both here at the London Gin Club.

Legend has it that 6 ravens must remain within the Tower of London lest it and the Monarchy will fall. Well our legend has it that there must be aways be a bottle of Crown Jewel at the London Gin Club lest all gin standards will fall – so say we at the London Gin Club Standards Committee.

Thank you Desmond!