Beefeater London Dry Gin
Review: Beefeater London Dry Gin (78.5/100)
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Originally published in July, 2011
(Revisited May, 2014)
Beefeater London Dry Gin is currently produced in Kennington, a district of South East London, in the United Kingdom. The company has roots stretching back to 1820 when the Chelsea Distillery was constructed on Cale Street and served as the first home for Beefeater Gin. The founder of the company, James Burrough, was not born until 1835, and it was not until about 1876 that the Beefeater brand was created from gin produced at the Chelsea Distillery. Over time the brand has changed locations twice, first in 1908 to Hutton Road, and then in 1958 to its present location in Kensington.
The Beefeater Gin website lists nine ingredients which are used to flavour the gin: juniper from the hills of Italy, Siberia and Macedonia, Seville orange peel, bitter almonds, ground orris root, coriander seeds, angelica (seeds and root), licorice and lemon peel. The list of ingredients is a pretty good list for a flavourful gin, and it will be interesting as I sample the gin to see which of the botanicals shine through the gin and which remain undiscovered by my nose and palate.
In the Bottle 4/5
I have seen Beefeater sold in two styles of bottle in my locale, a 375 ml rectangular flask style bottle (pictured to the left), and the more traditional tall bar room style bottle (pictured below). The label is eye-catching and displays the English tradition of the spirit very well. As usual, I am not pleased with the metallic pressed on screw cap but this quibble is minor in nature especially as the price of Beefeater Gin is not a large burden on the wallet. The economical nature of this gin means I will not be harsh in my judgment.
(I should note that the Beefeater Gin sold in Canada is a 40 % abv spirit. All of the reviews I have seen online for this spirit indicate a 47 % abv spirit. I believe this difference has major consequences for the gin which are discussed in the review.)
In the Glass 8/10
I poured a small amount of gin into my glass and saw that it imparted long slender legs that fell rather quickly back into the glass. The gin is clear to the eye, and everything is as I expect it to be for a quality gin.
As I sniff the glass I get the impression that I am going to find the Beefeater Gin to be a very laid back and gentle spirit. Soft piny notes of juniper arise beside predominant scents of orange and lemon citrus. Because I know what other botanicals are used in the gin’s construction, I am able to discern some notes of coriander and very faints wisps of licorice. I am not sure I would have discovered these scents in a blind examination.
As I said earlier, the nose is gentle and laid back, but I find myself wishing for just a little more of an alpine scent than what is present.
In the Mouth 47/60
The gentleness that the Beefeater Gin displays continues into the mouth with a flavour that is so laid back that I find myself disappointed. Although I normally do not want my gin to be extremely aggressive with the piny juniper flavour, I do want something more than I am receiving on my palate. The gin is laid back to the point of being boring. A light bitterness flows through the gin; but, it does not carry much rich juniper flavour with it.
Do not get me wrong, I do taste juniper, citrus peel, and vague ghosts of other flavours, but for me there is no ‘pop’ to this expression of London Dry Gin, and I have downgraded the score accordingly. I wish that the 47 % abv spirit was available in Canada. This higher alcohol level would cause more concentrated flavour and aroma which this spirit desperately needs.
As is my normal course of action I constructed a few cocktails to assess the gin in its more familiar form. My go-to gin cocktail is my own Key Lime Gimlet. The result was a cocktail which tasted good, but I would be exaggerating if I said the gin shone through the cocktail.
In the Throat 12/15
The exit is smooth and laid back with no additional energy or thrust from the spirit. In fact the Beefeater Gin is, in the finish, much the same as it was when I inspected the aroma and the flavour. It is laid back to the point of being uninteresting. I want more flavour, and I want more ‘kick’ if I am to give a high score.
The Afterburn 7.5/10
I was really looking forward to sampling and tasting the Beefeater Gin, as I had read so many good things about its flavour and mixability. I can only say that rather than finding a robust gin which pleased me, I found a rather limp spirit full of mediocrity. I continue to wonder about that 47 % abv, I have read about in other reviews. My bottle clearly says 40 % abv, and I believe that is at the crux my disappointment. You have to add about 18 % more water to bring a spirit down from 47 % abv to 40 %. That added water dilutes the flavour and the aroma, and in my case I am sure, it diluted my enjoyment.
You may read some of my other Gin Reviews (click the link) if you wish to have some comparative reviews.
I needed to find a recipe to help me deal with the rest of my bottle of Beefeater Gin. The Key Lime Gimlet I constructed was okay; but, I felt the gin to a large degree was devoured by the key limes in that recipe. I decided I needed to construct a drink which would not devour the gin, but would lift it up instead. Fortunately, I got lucky. A favourite website of mine to visit, Cold Glass, ran a feature on a cocktail called, The Seventh Heaven Cocktail. The recipe uses grapefruit and maraschino Liqueur instead of lime in conjunction with gin. So I followed the directions on Cold Glass and mixed a drink. It was as I suspected, much better than the Gimlet I had constructed. Then I mixed another making a small modification in the Cold Glass recipe, eliminating maraschino in the recipe, but adding back a little grenadine for sweetness.
My machinations culminated with a cocktail I call Heaven’s Staircase.
2 oz Beefeater Gin
3/4 oz fresh squeezed Grapefruit Juice
1/4 oz Grenadine (splash)
Add the Gin, the Grapefruit Juice, a fresh Mint Leaf, and splash of Grenadine into a Metal Shaker
Shake until the sides of the shaker turn to frost
Strain into the rinsed cocktail glass
Garnish with a fresh Mint Leaf
Please consume this cocktail responsibly!
My Final Score is out of 100 and you may (loosely) interpret that score as follows:
0-25 A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49 Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59 You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69 Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74 Now we have a fair mixing spirit. Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79 You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84 We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89 Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94 Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+ I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.
Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and Bronze medal scale as follows:
70 – 79.5 Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5 Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95 Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+ Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)