Cocktail of the Week: a Chilgrove Dry Gin Bluebird to accompany a royal shooting

Below is an excerpt from the June 2015 edition of GINNED! Magazine about Chilgrove Dry Gin. Every month, Craft Gin Club Members receive a bottle of amazing small-batch gins accompanied by GINNED! Magazine which is full of information about the gin, the distillery and loads of fascinating features.

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The White Horse Pub & Inn in Chilgrove prides itself on a rather fortunate seasonal quirk: the UK’s Best Pub and AA Rosette establishment’s busiest period occurs when elsewhere activity dies down - during the Sussex shooting season. With the Glorious Twelfth, the start of the season for red grouse and the busiest shooting day of the year, the White Horse begins to welcome guests to its award-winning country inn specifically customised for hunters. Fans of the hunt can wake refreshed for the morning shoot with their favourite dog by their bedside, their guns locked safely away in bespoke cabinets, and an early breakfast to energise the shoot. Upon their return, the White Horse even employs a shoot butler to help unpack guests’ cars of hunting materials.

Game shooting has been a popular affair in the UK ever since guns were of a high enough quality to accurately mark prey over three hundred years ago. The British Association for Shooting and Conversation estimates that over 1 million Britons take part in shooting activities, activities of which the Royal Family has also traditionally been a spirited participant. 

Despite mixed public opinions and controversy surrounding the sport, pictures of Princes Charles, William and Harry hunting game in the UK and abroad abound. Commenting on the Royals continued obsession with the sport, The Guardian commented, “The royal shooting obsession was something Princess Diana found repugnant. Requiring little or no skill, royal pheasant shoots are a pre-planned carnage of wildlife, bred specifically for slaughter.”

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Perhaps the most notorious Royal shooter was George V, whom his biographer, Kenneth Rose, described in his award-winning book as a “keen and expert marksman” and has having a passion for hunting. Before his trip to India only six months after his June 1911 coronation, the Maharaja of Nepal invited George to hunt game, a trip that the King had been dying to make since 1905 when a previously planned excursion was canceled due to cholera outbreak. Only a few hours after crossing the border into Nepal, George shot his first tiger as it jumped a stream. All told, during ten days of hunting, the Emperor of India’s crew killed a total of 39 tigers, 18 rhinoceros and 4 bears.

If that sounds like an enormous amount of game, King George topped it two years later back in the UK. While out hunting in Buckinghamshire in December 1913, his shooting party “bagged” 3,937 pheasants in six hours with over one thousand of the birds killed by the King, a shoot that The Field magazine places as the 34th Top Shot in UK history. Still, there were some pangs of regret for the party’s targets. Even the sporting King admitted, “We went a little too far.” It would appear that the sight of his gun and his royal hindsight were both 20/20.

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