You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Buckingham Palace launches its own sloe gin with berries imported from eastern Europe

The Telegraph logo The Telegraph 04/05/2021 Victoria Ward
a glass of wine sitting on top of a wooden table: Royal Collection Trust has launched a sloe gin - Royal Collection Trust © Royal Collection Trust Royal Collection Trust has launched a sloe gin - Royal Collection Trust

Sloe gin is considered a quintessentially British liqueur, traditionally homemade using berries picked from the blackthorn shrubs abundant in the nation's hedgerows

But Buckingham Palace has revealed that in creating its very own sloe gin, it was forced to import the berries from eastern Europe as the UK’s fruits were not up to the required standard.

The Royal Collection Trust, which on Tuesday announced the latest addition to its drinks collection, said British sloe berries were not available in the “quality or quantity” required.

A spokeswoman said: “We are using whole berries, rather than from concentrate, meaning they need to be of the best quality.” She suggested that they fared better in a colder climate.

But the assertion was branded “absolute nonsense” by David Patrick, founder of Norfolk-based sloeberry producer sloeberries.org.uk.

“The typical sloe is 1cm across,” he said. “A blackthorn bush, wherever it is in the world, would produce the same sloes. It’s not like a rose which has a zillion different types.

“They mass produce and flash freeze them in Bulgaria. Anyone importing them can only be doing so to save money as they sell them by the ton and it's much cheaper.”

He said some producers might grow bullaces, a larger fruit from the same family that is slightly less acidic, and pass them off as sloes.

Buckingham Palace gins are infused with botanicals from the Palace garden - Royal Collection Trust © Provided by The Telegraph Buckingham Palace gins are infused with botanicals from the Palace garden - Royal Collection Trust

The RCT’s latest offering, which costs £30 for a 50cl bottle, follows the successful launch of its own London dry gin last summer, which sold out within eight hours of going online.

The charity, which looks after the Queen's art collection and official residences, will be hoping to reap significant sales profits as it faces a significant financial black hole after the pandemic devastated its income from tourism.

It is expected to lose more than £60 million in 2020-21, and had to borrow £22 million from Coutts. 

In February, it asked its board of trustees, chaired by the Prince of Wales, to approve a new loan for an undisclosed sum for the coming year.

The sloe gin, said to have “a unique and intense flavour,” is made by steeping berries in Buckingham Palace Gin, which was launched last July.

An RCT spokeswoman said that sales of its original gin had been “very successful” and “perhaps better than expected” with many repeat customers.

Described as being infused with citrus and herbal notes, the gin is derived from 12 botanicals, some of which - lemon verbena, hawthorn berries, bay leaves and mulberry leaves - are collected from the Buckingham Palace garden.

It is not known whether the Queen has sampled the product, though she is known to be a fan of a gin cocktail, following in the footsteps of her late mother. Her Majesty is said to enjoy her favoured drink, gin and Dubonnet - one part gin and two parts Dubonnet, with ice cubes and a slice of lemon - immediately before lunch.

Elizabeth II et al. holding wine glasses: The Queen enjoys her favourite tipple with Ashes winning England women's cricketers in 2006 - Fiona Hanson/WPA rota/PA © Provided by The Telegraph The Queen enjoys her favourite tipple with Ashes winning England women's cricketers in 2006 - Fiona Hanson/WPA rota/PA

The launch follows news that the Queen has also launched her own beer, a Sandringham bitter, brewed with plants grown on the royal estate in Norfolk.

Produced by Barsham Brewery in north Norfolk, two bitters are now on the shelves at the property's gift shop.

They are made using organic laureate spring barley harvested from Her Majesty’s gardens and spring water drawn from a nearby bore hole.

The Duke of Edinburgh, who died last month, was reputed to be a keen drinker of real ale.

Sandringham already sells its own "Celebration" gin, which is made in a distillery on the estate, whilst the Prince of Wales launched his own organic Highgrove gin just months after the RCT began selling its own variety last year.

Highgrove gin is distilled "using heritage grains grown at Highgrove and distilled by an artisan producer in Oxford".

It is described as being "beautifully bright with abundant notes of delicate garden herbs such as lemon verbena, thyme and rosemary which give the spirit a delightful aroma and flavour".

Sign up to the Front Page newsletter for free: Your essential guide to the day's agenda from The Telegraph - direct to your inbox seven days a week.

AdChoices
AdChoices

More from The Telegraph

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon