REVIEW: Darnley’s Original Gin

I had been looking to try a new gin for a while now, so I couldn’t believe my luck when a bottle of Darnley’s Original found its way to my desk last Friday! I’d heard a lot of buzz about this gin, especially since their rebranding from Darnley’s View earlier this year, so couldn’t wait to get home and get stuck in. Here’s what I thought:


A little bit of background – the Darnley’s story


The Darnley’s brand is steeped in history and romanticism, harking back to the days of Mary Queen of Scots and her lover; Lord Darnley – from who the gin takes its name:

“The story goes that this gin is inspired by the moment that Mary Queen of Scots spied her future husband, Lord Darnley, through a window of the Wemyss ancestral home, Wemyss Castle. The literature that came with the bottle romanticises this event and triumphs their union as producing the future King of both England and Scotland, James (I of England and VI of Scotland). Like their gin which unites the best of Scottish and English gins, James unified the thrones of these two countries.”


The Bottle Itself


darnley's gin


Like many of you, I too have been guilty of choosing a brand of gin based solely on a beautiful bottle – and Darnley’s is definitely one that could fall into that category! Following a recent rebrand, the Darnley’s Original packaging is looking better than ever. The heavy-bottomed, tapered glass bottle is adorned with a delicate white label, surrounded by sketchings of the botanicals contained within. Something about the bottle screams ‘elderflower’ to me, which is lucky because it happens to be one of the 6 botanicals that flavour this gorgeous gin. Overall the look is simple, floral and elegant – everything a good gin should be!




Unlike many gins on the market, Darnley’s original has a very small list of only 6 botanicals – proving that you don’t need a long list of fancy ingredients to make a good gin!


  1. Juniper
  2. Coriander Seed
  3. Lemon Peel
  4. Angelica Root
  5. Orris Root
  6. Elderflower


Numbers 1-5 are of course traditional botanicals, found in a large number of craft gins. What makes Darnley’s different however, is the addition of elderflower, which adds a light, floral, almost citrusy note to the gin. Darnley’s Original was actually inspired by elderflower growing wild around the Wemyss family estate in Scotland, which their distillers picked and dried out by hand when creating the recipe.


darnley's gin review


The nose

On first sniff Darnley’s has a mild and sweet aroma. The juniper definitely comes through but is complimented by delicate floral notes and a scent that is reminiscent of posh cloudy lemonade.



Sipped on its own, Darnley’s Original has a sweet and spicy flavour, with fruity and floral top notes from the elderflower. It has a smooth taste, with a long dry finish and a distinct lack of alcohol burn that some cheaper gins can provide. Try drinking with a few cubes of ice or a splash of cold water to further exaggerate these qualities.


With tonic

In a G&T, Darnley’s works an absolute treat. I sampled it with good old reliable Schweppes tonic water. Now some of you may insist that it’s blasphemy to drink a good gin with anything but a high-quality tonic but, I once worked in a craft gin distillery whose director swore by Schweppes, so it’s now my tonic of choice unless I really feel like being really fancy!

The tonic brings out a grapefruit-like flavour with just a hint of lychee from the elderflower and citrus botanicals. The juniper of course dominates the palate but still allows for the delicate floral notes and woody-spiciness of the angelica and orris roots to shine through.


Suggested serve

The Darnley’s suggested serve is a classic one. They say that you drink their gin with tonic in a 2:1 ratio, topped off with a slice of lime. Now I love my gin as much as the next person but I find that a 2:1 ratio is often a little too much for me. For me, a 3:1 prevented the gin from overshadowing the flavours of the tonic and provided a much more pleasant gin drinking experience.


Darnley’s Gin is available to buy at their Kingsbarns Distillery or online at:


Our gin reviews can help you choose your next bottle – or two!



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