Cocktails with… Beefeater Summer Gin – Blackcurrant, Elderflower and Hibiscus!

Okay, so I’m a little behind the times with this review and a little out of season, but as I’m quite a fan of Beefeater, a London Dry Gin that is actually distilled in London, I thought I’d take the time to write this review up. It’s still available so, if you like the sound of it, maybe you can be lucky enough to pick some up. I am speaking about Beefeater Summer, which takes the classic nine botanicals in Beefeater’s recipe and adds three bonus ones: Blackcurrant , Elderflower and Hibiscus Flower.

Released in May 2010, this has since been followed by Beefeater Winter (October 2010) and Beefeater London Market (June 2011). Whether there will be any more limited editions is anyone’s guess, but I sure hope so!

I remember being quite excited about Beefeater Summer, the start of a limited edition range that I have only ever seen reflected in the Berkshire Mountain Ethereal range of gin. Here are my tasting notes.

#1) Own
Nose: Juniper and some floral muskiness, mixed in with berry notes; I was reminded of elderberries, a hint of strawberry and an additional, dry berry note. Overall, it was quite fresh and light and, well, summery.
Taste: Initially very smooth, with some full, ripe berry flavours that gradually give way to lighter, sweeter floral elements, some vanilla and then the familiar coriander and juniper. There’s quite a sweet finish, almost like Old Tom Gin,with a similar floral intensity.

#2) Gin & Tonic
Lovely; really fresh, fruity and invigorating. The juniper and coriander are a bit lighter here; there are some floral notes, as well as a touch of berry. I thought this was really nice and perfect for a hot, hot day.

#3) Martini
Tasty; quite delicate, but complex, too. This was very, very fresh, zingy and peppy, and would make a really nice pick-me-up with a summer floral factor. I really like this.

#4) Frozen (from the Freezer)
Very smooth, with a silky texture. The juniper comes through, as does some fruity berry notes and citrus; additionally, there was elderberry/flower on the finish. This is quite a light and floral gin, but the more perfumed elements are neatly counteracted by the fruity berry character.

#5) Negroni
A rather fruity Negroni with a little extra energy, courtesy of the lively floral and berry notes. The classic notes of juniper and citrus are still there, which makes you know you’re still drinking a gin Negroni. Overall, the gin works well, with the other ingredients creating a smoother than normal Negroni, whilst keeping the usual bittersweet finish.

#6) Collins
This is summer in a glass! The Collins is naturally a great, sunny season cocktail and so the addition of some floral notes is superb. The blackcurrant works well with tartness of the lemon juice, creating one of the best gin Collins out there.

#7) White Lady
Pretty tasty. The blackcurrant comes through strongly, making this quite a tart White Lady. Nonetheless, it’s still very enjoyable, being crisp and fresh with a touch of zing.

Beefeater Gin's Master Distiller Desmond Payne and DTS

Beefeater Gin’s Master Distiller Desmond Payne and DTS

Cocktails with.. Beefeater London Market Gin

Last Tuesday saw myself, Mr. Hartley and a plethora of other drinks-writers head to Battersea for a sneak peak of the new gin from Beefeater, Beefeater London Market Gin as well as a chance to learn a little bit more about the new cocktail website Gin & Tales. This is the fourth new gin Beefeater in as many years, all a variation on the original; I thought this a good opportunity to look at the story so far.

Beefeater itself has nine botanicals (I shall refer to these as the “Classic 9”). These are:
Juniper, Angelica Root, Angelica Seed, Coriander Seed, Orange Peel, Lemon Peel, Orris Root, Liquorice Root and Almond. With each of the “Beefeater Variations”, the master distiller has used these nine botanicals as a base and added three more to create the variant. The details of these additional botanicals can be found below.

Beefeater 24 was released in October 2008 and was created, in some ways, as a replacement for Crown Jewel, a gin which was first released in 1993 and made using the Classic 9 botanicals, plus Grapefruit; designed for the export market, Crown Jewel was bottled at 50.0%. Beefeater 24 was also to be Beefeater’s Premium Product.

Beefeater Summer was released in May 2010 for a limited period and formed part of a pair along with the Beefeater Winter (October 2010). This led to speculation by some of an Autumn variety (perhaps with Pumpkin, Cranberry and Pear?) as well as a Spring Gin (Rhubarb, Mint & Cherry, maybe?). As far as my “sources” tell me, there are no such plans as yet; I don’t think Mr. Payne wants to get stuck into that sort of cycle.

And that brings us to June 2011 and the release of London Market Gin. The gin was designed to reflect the smells and sensations of a London Food Market in summer, a nod to the fact that James Borough used to scour London’s Markets in search of the finest exotic botanicals. The guest botanicals are the sort of thing you could ind in London Food Markets in 2011, Pomegranate, Kafir Lime LEaves and Caradmon*

#1) Own
Very soft and slightly sweet, I get juniper, some citrus (probably a touch more than usual with Beefeater) and a long taste of cardamon towards the end. Medium finish.
My main impressions: soft, sweet and cardamon.

On a re-taste (today, first thing with a clean palate) I still get the cardamon but there is a slight bitter jamminess/berry which may well be the pomegranate.

#2) G&T
Very fresh citrus on nose; on the tongue, juniper comes through, as well as some extra citrus. Seems to be quite a classic style of Gin & Tonic. There was a touch of sweetness at the end, but this was only very subtly different to a classic Beefeater G&T.

#3) G&T+
This is what some call a G&T Stripe: a layer of botanical distillate (3-5ml) is layered on top of a Gin & Tonic, in this case I chose a cardamon distillate. This created a lightly louche slick, or stripe, at the top of the glass. Initially, the smell and flavour is of the floating cardamon distillate, but after that you get the normal flavours of the Gin & Tonic, although the sweet citrus and cardamon notes seem to be highlighted to a greater extent. Rather enjoyable.

#4) Martini
Really nice: the cardamon and lime flavours really linger at the end. I used a 4:1 ratio, which seems to work well; the gin flavour is prominent, but there is still space for the taste of the vermouth. Lovely and a really great finish. My recommended garnish would be either a lemon twist or none at all.

#5) Bramble
Quite pleasant; good citrus, a touch of the cardamon and a very round mouth feel. Pretty good.

#6) Gimlet
With the citrus notes of the gin, you would expect it mix well in a Gimlet and it does, although I preferred to reduce the ratio from 1:1 to 2:1 in favour of the gin. Crisp and biting; perfect for giving you a bit more zing and pep.

In Conclusion

I enjoyed the London Market Gin and, having tried it alongside the Winter and Summer, for me, it was a favourite (but then I quite like cardamon). I thought that the lime-like element of the leaves and also the cardamon come through well, although the pomegranate is much more subtle. My favourite way to drink this would probably be on its own or with some ice cubes, although the G&T+ and the Martini were very good, too.

For pictures of our sneak preview, go to our Facebook Group

Beefeater Gin's Master Distiller Desmond Payne and DTS

Beefeater Gin’s Master Distiller Desmond Payne and DTS

For more cocktail recipes (including what is perhaps the very first cocktail recipe) check out

Many thanks to the ladies of Bacchus (especially our exceptional hosts, Cara and Laura), Mr. Dre Masso and Beefeater Gin.

*Already a classic botanical in any a gin.