I bought a bottle of Beefeater. I’ve always been suspicious of Beefeater. For a start I don’t eat beef. Yes, I know that’s not what it means, but it’s so inelegant it always struck me as the wrong name for a gin. Anyway, I was lulled into a false sense of security after enjoying a couple of terrific negronis with Beefeater at Eau de Vie.
Just as a by-the-by, if you are heading to Eau de Vie (and you should, it’s lovely), it’s hidden at the back of the Kirkton Hotel with no street number or sign. Elusive.
Eau de Vie have a pretty good range of gins, some hard to finds like Junipero and Sipsmith, but the bartender steered me towards Beefeater for a negroni. ‘Beefeater’s great,’ he said. ‘A big juniper hit, and that’s what you want in a negroni’. And he was right; it was a great negroni, not too sweet up front, big round mouth feel and a nice bitter hit at the back of the tongue. Could have done with a touch more orange zest.
So when I was in the very small bottle shop with the very small range that is vaguely close to my house, I saw that Beefeater with it’s alluring $40 price tag and thought, I’ve changed my mind, I’m going to give it a shot!
In a straight tasting, Beefeater is like being punched in the mouth with juniper. I couldn’t really detect any other botanicals. It also had a very big ethanol hit to the sinuses, which surprised me as at 40% it’s not a huge proof.
Beefeater’s ingredient list boasts orange, liquorice, coriander seeds, angelica seeds, angelica root, almond, lemon and orris root, but as I said the juniper really dominates, not even the citrus cuts through. It is a London Dry gin and is made through a maceration distillation. They soak the botanicals for 24 hours, maybe it could be a little longer for a more complex flavour, but I am certainly not a distiller!
Beefeater is not great in a gin and tonic. There’s little complexity or subtly, there is juniper, ethanol and tonic, not much of anything else. On the suggestion of some friends who were visiting when Beefeater was all I had had in the house, we added a squeeze of mandarin, which was really very nice, the top note of sweet citrus brightened the drink. But once stocks are replenished, Beefeater will be going to the back of the cupboard for negroni times.