Beefeater has let their Master Distiller Desmond Payne off leash for a bit to try something new.
Notes: Founded in 1820 by James Burrough, a pharmacist in London. The distillery moved around a bit for a number of years and now resides in the ex- Haywards Military Pickle Factory in Eddington (suburb of London). After forty two years of doing the exact same gin with no changes, Beefeater has let their Master Distiller Desmond Payne off leash for a bit to try something new.
As usual, the ingredients are macerated for 24 hours in grain spirits prior to distillation (not a compound or bathtub type gin), made in steam heated swan necked copper pot stills and with a distillation time of seven hours. There is also a newly launched variation called Beefeater 24 which is infused with types of tea.
Appearance: Crystal clear, displays long legs on swirling, which then become droplets on the side of the glass.
First Impression: Heavy but nicely aromatic juniper, balanced with citrus and seville orange with witchhazel,angelica, coriander, cassia, licorice,almond, orris root and the other usual suspects.The high proof gives it more alcohol bite, but this is to be expected. Even at 94 proof, though, this gin shows a subtlety of blending.
Taste: Wonderfully thick body to it. A harmonious but bracing mixture of juniper, licorice, juniper, citrus and the other spices rush headlong through the palate leaving a warm oily wake, mild tingling on the lips and tongue and a hint of juniper. Nice hints of marzipan from the almonds, and the mixture of licorice and citrus notes. Slight warming burn on the way down. Finish has cream spinach notes and resin. For a high proof gin this stuff is remarkably smooth.
Drinks: Makes a excellent martini, but remember to adjust your dilution and cooling to compensate for the slightly higher proof (in other words shake it a little longer). That being said, it will chill better than most as the higher proof seems to keep the botanicals blended better at a colder temperature than most and gives you a lovely molten glass appearance. A delight to those martini drinkers who either remember the older style of gin (and martinis), or aspire to know what it was (and is)-a little less subtle, (but balanced), more body for the old style crowd or someone who wants to try something a bit different. One of my favorites for a gin and tonic which can actually be a more difficult drink for a gin to stand out in.
Bottle: Clear rectangular shaped bottle with “Made in London” stamped in the glass on the sides and 1820 on the front shoulder -gold-on-red neck seal. Lear silk screened label with red on white label with a Beefeater (London Tower Guard) on the label.
Final Thoughts: One of the dying breed of classic old style gins with no apologies. A retro- or retrograde type of gin of the type before the sissified ‘lighter’ gins started to be blended to lure the fear of flavor crowd away from their vodka “martini” abominations. Made from simple, traditional ingredients – no gimmicks, secrets herbs or spices- just good gin. Sadly, one of few gins made the old fashioned way in a copper pot still, a labor intensive method that has fallen from favor among most distillers.
Only the truly committed (or committable) still use copper pot stills to produce a gin with the resulting heavier and more complex flavors than what the column or coffey stills others produce. “Gin is a fiddlely thing to produce” to quote a (obviously English) distiller friend of mine made especially difficult to produce with a pot still. Paradoxically costs about 1/2 of the price of other premium gins.
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