I have a long been an advocate of distillery-only editions. A piece of advice that I often give to new distilleries that are opening up and will be inviting the public to visit is to offer a product that visitors can only get their hands on at the distillery.
Two great examples, not to mention great products, are the Plymouth Fruit Cup and the Benedictine Reserve. The distillery shop is not just a great way to earn extra revenue, but is potentially a one-stop shop for everything that a distillery produces there; if you can’t get it at the distillery where it is made, then where can you get it?
So I was pleased when I heard about Beefeater London Garden: the distillery-exclusive edition that was released in conjunction with their new visitor centre (more about that in a post later this week). In fact, I was as excited to try the new edition as I was to see the visitor centre.
Beefeater London Garden takes the original 9 Beefeater botanicals (see here) and adds lemon verbena and thyme. These additions were inspired by the Chelsea Physic Garden, where Beefeater founder James Burrough was known to walk. It is bottled at 40% ABV.
On its own
Nose: Classic Beefeater notes: juniper, angelica, coriander, and orange citrus are joined by an vibrant turbo of citrus form the verbena, as well as some subtle, leafy notes.
Taste: The difference between this and the classic Beefeater is relatively subtle, but I think that the coriander comes through a bit more and the citrus is certainly more intense, thanks to the verbena. In addition, there are some small herbal and leafy flourishes, before a classic, long, dry finish.
Gin & Tonic (Classic)
A clean and dry Gin & Tonic with full, fresh citrus and herbal notes from the extra botanicals. In addition, there are some interesting hints of dark chocolate. This is dryer and more intense than a classic Beefeater Gin & Tonic, but just as refreshing.
A very crisp Martini that is dry, too; far less sweet and with less orange than a Martini made with the standard Beefeater. This is a very classic cocktail and, at a 5:1 ratio, the vermouth comes through quite a bit, making the Martini seem a lot wetter. One for a true fan of a 1940-50s Martini.
Superb. At a slightly lower temperature, I think more of the subtleties of this variety come through. Some of the more complex, leafy notes are more apparent, as are the citrus notes of the verbena.
A particularly vibrant, crisp and zesty Negroni with a real pow of flavour. A well-integrated and well-balanced Negroni with a long, bitter, slightly spicy finish.
Gin Tonica (with lemon thyme and lemon peel)
A fragrant drink that, for me, captures the inspiration behind and the essence of the gin. There’s a leafy citrus from the lemon thyme and a floral note from the flowers. The peel balances this out with some extra zest. I think the cooling nature of this drink really suits the flavours of the gin and helps to lengthen what is quite an intense spirit.
Beefeater London Garden is a relatively subtle variation of Beefeater, so fans of the classic Beefeater are likely to be fans of this. The Gin & Tonic was my favourite of the drinks that I tried.
Beefeater London Garden is available ONLY at the Beefeater Distillery Visitor Centre and is priced at £22.50 for 70cl.
Beefeater 40% ABV
On its own
Nose: Coriander, lemon and orange, with some lemongrass at the end and just a hint of a malted milk biscuit.
Taste: Smooth, with a creamy texture and a little sweetness. Orange flavours come through toward the end, with notable juniper on the finish.
Gin & Tonic
Classic and clean, with some sherberty citrus that works well with the bubbles of the tonic. Then there’s a good, dry finish. I’d recommend using either a lemon or orange garnish.
A truly classic Martini, with the great mix of dry, slightly piney juniper, herbal angelica and then some crisp, slightly sweet citrus from the coriander and orange, both of which mix well with the herbal vermouth.
A nice, mellow and accessible drink that’s quite sweet initially, but with a bitter finish and a hint of chocolate. A good garnish would be either orange or grapefruit. Very sippable; almost liqueur like.
Beefeater 47% ABV
On its own
Nose: More of the juniper, angelica and other herbal and spice notes come through, with less citrus.
Taste: Still a clean and smooth spirit, considering it is another 7%ABV in strength. The citrus is more forward at the start and the lemon is more balanced against the orange. Altogether, this is a dryer gin, which is less sweet and more spicy, vibrant and intense.
Gin & Tonic
A dryer Gin & Tonic, this almost seems sharper and more streamlined. I really like it and my suggestion for a garnish would be lime, as the slightly sour notes work well with the crispness of the drink, whereas I think that the sweetness from lemon muddles the flavours a bit.
A dryer and more intense Martini, with more juniper and more lemon, whilst the softer, sweeter elements are less pronounced. Although both drinks had the same volume of vermouth in them, this drink is far dryer. I can see why the 47% Beefeater is so popular for Martinis in the US and was the go-to brand throughout the ‘50s and ‘60s.
Once again, this is a dryer drink with a richer, more herbal complexity and is a good example of a textbook Negroni. Quite excellent.