GINblogger goes on ‘Woke Watch.’
Think of the reportedly debauched days of the British Raj where ‘white-privileged’ colonials supped their G&Ts on gently clipped lawns, served by the oppressed natives. You will then understand why I nearly spluttered my wine all over the table – and Bill and Lesley our Gin Scouts – when they presented us with a bottle of National Trust Dry Gin.
As that veritable, ex-BBC news presenter Andrew Neil said in his withering verdict on National Trust ‘woke’ culture: “What on Earth?” My sentiments exactly – why is the oh so PC charity producing a spirit whose history is steeped in the Empire and the Royal Navy which supported it?
Following the ‘Black Lives Matter’ campaign in 2018, the trust commissioned a report outlining the connections that dozens of its properties had to the slave trade and colonialism. Amongst the 93 smeared was Winston Churchill and his Chartwell retreat, his home having had ‘connections’ to people involved in colonial expansion, with our wartime PM being one of the senior figures ‘administering colonies.’
The move to distance itself from such unpalatable scenes led to the trust making all its volunteers – many elderly ‘Gammons’ – undergo ‘unconscious bias-training.’
Similarly, in 2017, staff and volunteers at the Felbrigg Hall stately home in Norfolk had been compelled to wear rainbow badges and lanyards to celebrate the 50th anniversary of homosexuality being decriminalized. Mass resignations followed, as did people deciding not to renew their NT membership.
So you’ll understand my mystification at the supposedly enlightened NT’s venture into gin, which is unequivocally ‘connected’ with Indian tonic water and its birth in colonial India around 1825. This was thanks to the English officers based there: as they sought a way to make their quinine medicine taste less bitter by mixing the powder with soda water and sugar to make a tonic, before adding their daily ration of gin (Read more here). A delicious cocktail very quickly taken up by the rulers across the Empire – making an equally delicious irony for the disdainful keepers of our country’s heritage properties; though we definitely don’t take issue with the distillation itself.
“The gin and tonic has saved more Englishmen’s’ lives and minds than all the doctors in the Empire.” Winston Churchill“
Made especially for the National Trust by the award-winning Lyme Bay Winery, this 40% ABV dry gin is, in fact, fresh and invigorating. Distilled with the traditional botanical flavours of juniper, it boasts subtle floral and citrus notes alongside the aroma of verbena – though it is the zestiness of orange peel, lemon and lime which we really enjoyed, with Indian tonic water. Is it not perhaps also a little distasteful of the National Trust to suggests a serve of “one of our new natural cordials to make a cheeky cocktail?”
The National Trust’s Chairman, Tim Parker, may have been forced to resign in the face of a no-confidence vote, but perhaps the rest of the board should ‘fall on their swords’ for being caught profiteering from selling a spirit arguably synonymous with colonialism?
National Trust Dry Gin can be purchased from the charity’s shop for £36.