Review – Beefeater Gin
Nestled amongst the lapdog-friendly townhouses of Kennington, South London is a distillery which lays claim to producing one of the gins that might be so bold to reckon it had a hand in kicking off the modern gin craze. Founded back in 1863 by a chap named James Burrough, the Beefeater distillery relocated to Kennington in 1958; rather handy for those in London looking to tour the distillery. Using a classic combination of juniper, angelica root and seed coriander seed, liquorice, almonds, orris root, seville oranges and lemon peel as the botanicals for its London Dry style, Beefeater prides itself on macerating the botanicals for a full 24hrs before distillation.
Beefeater London Dry Gin
Neat: Much brighter than expected from the nose, with the citrus (lemon in particular) playing a star role. The juniper on entry is prominent but not overpowering and lingers through to the liquorice-sweet finish. Spots of spice throughout enliven an earthy base to result in a complex and very traditionally-styled gin.
Mixing: Beefeater is a workhorse of the mixing world; while it won’t ever win accolades for the most intriguing or dazzling flavour profile, it delivers pretty much everything one expects from a traditionally-styled London dry gin. It is quite at home in cocktails ranging from a G+T through to a Martini, although the latter lacks just a touch of crispness that some find particularly enticing about the drink. We are splitting hairs mind you, with a raft of drinks from the sourness of the Pegu Club through to the Absinthe-spiked orange fruitiness of the Monkey Gland. Particular success is seen when the spicy notes are highlighted such as by substituting the regular sugar syrup for a ginger syrup in the Gin Cocktail, or indeed by adding in some complimentary smoky tea notes in the Lapsang Martinez. Light, refreshing and fruity too is a successful angle for this gin which manages to tread the fine line between delivering a healthy hit of ginny-ness and slinking into the background almost perfectly. A Raspberry Collins or indeed the signature Green Goddess (recipe below) make for a wonderfully refreshing tipple.
Signature Cocktail – Green Goddess
1/7th of a cucumber, 20ml lime juice, 2 basil leaves, 15ml sugar syrup, beefeater gin
Blend ingredients except gin with 5 ice cubes then sieve. Add 50ml Beefeater gin and serve in a chilled glass with a salt and pepper rim.
In addition to the botanicals used in the regular Beefeater, 24 which takes its name from the number of hours of maceration that take place before distillation also includes grapefruit, Japanese Sencha and Chinese Green Tea.
Nose: A classic spiced juniper and citrus aroma, accented by an earthy/woody note together with the unmistakable freshness of stewed green tea. All sit harmoniously alongside each other such that the profile is unique, but restrained too.
Neat: Again a classic profile upfront, not too dissimilar to the regular gin. Well balanced, soft juniper specked with floral and citrus in the mid-palate. The tea flavours build together with cracked pepper which they outlast to linger delicately on the sweet finish. A sophisticated and understated yet self-assured twist to a classic gin profile.
Mixing: Like its older sibling, Beefeater 24 is a workhorse of a gin; you really can’t go far wrong. The flavours do carry a little better on account of the higher abv, making it a bolder choice for a MartinTom Collins. Whilst certainly enjoyable, it seems a shame to lose the tea character by choosing to mix in sour cocktails such an Aviation, with this gin instead being more suited to a sweeter style of cocktail to further enhance the tea flavours; a Wink perhaps. Other botanical-led drinks such as aNegroni are equally pleasing, but perhaps anything other than a tea-led cocktail such as the English Breakfast Martini is just missing the point of this wonderful spirit.
Beefeater has stood the test of time for good reason. It is a very solid example of a traditional gin style that delivers the delivers a tasty hit time after time. The 24 version is an illustration in master blending and is an example of what a fantastic match tea and gin are.
Rating: ★★★★ (London Dry) ★★★★★ (24)
Beefeater Gin is available to buy from Master of Malt
★: Terrible, only drink for a dare.
★★: Meh, not undrinkable but best left alone.
★★★: Reasonable, middle of the road.
★★★★: Tasty stuff, well worth seeking out.
★★★★★: Incredible, booze doesn’t get better than this. You need a bottle in your life.