How does a Connecticut-based spirits company partner with the real-life Earl and Countess of TV’s "Downton Abbey," Highclere Castle? They connect through email of course.
It was after watching an episode of "Downton Abbey," followed by a documentary about Highclere Castle, that Adam von Gootkin got an idea. Von Gootkin was already successful in the spirits business, having launched New England’s first legal moonshine since Prohibition, Onyx Moonshine, in 2011 along with Peter Kowalczyk. Why not a premium gin?
Thus, an email was sent and the conversation started. Follow-up calls turned into visits and Highclere Castle Spirits was born in 2017. Spearheaded by von Gootkin and his Onyx partner Kowalczyk, the duo was joined by New Canaan’s Ted Yang, who is also president of Cantata Media, Daily Voice’s owner, and Rhode Island-based Matt Wilkerson.
Highclere Castle Gin, a super-premium London Dry Gin with botanicals from the castle’s herb gardens (originally planted in the ninth century by the Bishops of Winchester), uses juniper from the estate, lime flower, orange peel and a touch of lavender as well as the integration of Highclere’s acclaimed estate-grown oats to create its unique smooth taste. The award-winning spirit is produced in England’s oldest gin distillery.
Lord and Lady Carnarvon, according to Highclere Castle Spirits CEO von Gootkin, are not simply lending their castle name and estate’s harvest. They have worked on the recipe, the design and fully participated in the launch.
Starting Sept. 6, Highclere Castle Gin will be available in the tristate area. Without a doubt it would be the most appropriate libation to have while discussing the "Downtown Abbey" movie, which comes out Sept. 20.
Von Gootkin, for the record, likes his Highclere Castle Gin the “Noble way”—on the rocks with a twist.
“The gin is amazingly smooth and we are finding people really enjoy sipping it straight,” he said.
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