Comment - Spirits - Producers eye Jubilee Jackpot
Pernod's Ricard's Royal Salute - just one of the many Jubilee products launched. But what will Liz and Phil drink?
The pending Diamond Jubilee in the UK has been prefaced by a swathe of special edition versions of products from every drinks category. As a keen list-maker, Ian Buxton is well-placed to bring them all together. Right up until he goes cross-eyed.
The UK may be in the depths of a double-dip recession, but a thirsty populace should have no difficulty toasting the health of their monarch next month.
From plum liqueur to Lambrini, mineral water to malt whisky, Cava to Champagne and, of course, more beers than you can shake a loyal tankard at, drinks producers have gone into over-drive to sate the anticipated demand for patriotic toasts. The offerings range from the quixotic, such as Demijohn’s Wild Bullace Liqueur (it’s a type of plum) and a special bottling of Angostura Bitters, to the luxurious, with Johnnie Walker’s GBP100,000 (US$157,084) Diamond Jubilee bottling currently topping the price rankings.
If that’s a little out of your price range, or you fail Diageo’s vetting of purchasers to ensure your suitability, then you could always splash out the equivalent on 33,444 bottles of the ‘limited edition’ Lambrini (around 15% of the total supply, although you could probably push them for a discount if you were planning a particularly large street party).
The Scotch whisky industry appears to have been particularly active, perhaps anticipating specially-pronounced royalist fervour in North Britain ahead of the planned referendum on independence.
As well as the Johnnie Walker bottling, you can drink to Her Majesty’s health (or make sly reference to the ‘King across the water’ depending on your allegiance) with Glen Grant 60-year-old (GBP7,995); Chivas Brothers’ Royal Salute 21 year old (GBP100); an 18 year-old Laphroaig from Beam (GBP77); The Whisky Barrel’s 21-year-old Bunnahabhain (GBP64.99) or slum it with The Famous Jubilee from Edrington, a snip at GBP25. And, that’s before The Dalmore announces something spectacular!
Don’t care for whisky? Well, then Gonzalez Byass can suggest a cheeky little Cava, Lanson has a limited edition bottled wrapped in neoprene (is it just me, or does that sound a bit kinky?) and, for the morning after, you can re-hydrate with Life Water’s specially-labelled bottling. That features the Queen's portrait made up of thousands of self-portraits by young British people and to ensure our royals couldn’t escape, the portrait was projected on to the front of the Queen's London residence, Buckingham Palace for three hours a night during April.
Presumably one was not overly amused.
So far, I haven’t mentioned the beers that have been brewed. Probably best not. After a quick web search I lost count. Every craft brewer in the country has hopped to it (sorry) and, from mash tuns the length and breadth of the land, special brews are pouring out to a nation of drinkers pent up with excitement.
Or so the breathless marketing hype would have us believe. Perhaps, in fact, we need this extra alcohol to get us through the Olympics – and that’s just Londoners. Still, as the Prime Minister is fond of reminding us, “we’re all in this together”, and a large measure of Angostura Bitters may just catch the national mood.
In fairness, at least some of these offerings are not simply rampant opportunism. Several are donating all or part of their profits to charity – the Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust (QEST), set up to help further the careers of craftsmen and women in the UK is a favourite. Diageo expects to send them a cheque for at least GBP1m and Angostura and Laphroaig are also backing QEST. Other producers may also be making charitable donations but preserving their modesty.
But, one key question remains: what, in all this richness of choice, will Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip be drinking on the big day? The preferred royal tipple – if rumour is to be believed – is the classic Gin and Dubonnet cocktail.
So, step forward some enterprising entrepreneur. You have just a few days to prepare, bottle and launch a Diamond Jubilee Zaza. Buckingham Palace and a grateful nation will thank you. There’s a knighthood in it for someone (but I’ll settle for an MBE for concept generation and waive my usual fee).
Here’s a toast to Her Majesty. Long may she reign over us!
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