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… Oliver Twist Gin

Being based, as we are, near Portsmouth, you can’t help but know some of the city’s famous residents, such as:Conan Doyle, Peter Sellers, Brunel, Chritsopher Hitchens, HG Wells and Charles Dickens. It is the last of these great men who is of particular relevance today, as we look at a gin named after one of his most famous creations, Oliver Twist.

Oliver Twist Gin was created by the Guernsey-based SD Spirits Ltd. The gin is unusually described as a “Distilled London Gin”. Technically, it is also a London Dry Gin, but the Spirits wanted to emphasise the fact that the gin is made in London; this is a similar idea to that of “London Cut”, which is another geographical moniker.

The gin is made at Thames, is bottled at 40% ABV, and contains four botanicals.

Nose: Classic gin; dry juniper and coriander, a little salty, too.
Taste: Strong juniper with some lighter floral elements. Very dry coriander and bitter herbs on the finish.

Gin & Tonic
No nonsense, good strong juniper, with some sweetness at the end. All-in-all, a good classic-style G&T.

Very smooth, but still flavourful. The gin lets the vermouth come through, so there is synergy between the two. Soft initially, crisp at the end and pretty easy to drink.

Intense and quite sweet, but very herbally bitter on the finish, which is quick. Overall, this came across as being a rather extreme (intense) drink; it’ll knock your socks off, but, if you love Negronis, this is for you.

Pink Gin
Rounded and powerful with a juniper kick. This works quite well, but is quite strong, both in terms of flavour and of perceived proof. The herbs and spice of bitters come through and the texture is silky, almost syrupy.

Gin Old Fashioned
A smooth, but spicy number, I found this easy to drink and a great way of enjoying the characteristics of the gin.

In the spirit of invention, here are some more unorthodox cocktails:

Mr Bumble’s Bongo
Gin and Umbongo; an unlikely combination, but one that was recommended by the folks at Oliver Twist Gin. It works surprisingly well and I really like it. The combination seems to bring out grapefruit from somewhere, but neither the gin nor the juice contain any. Very refreshing, easy to make and really worth a try.

What the Dickens?
This is a recipe that I came up with recently, but hadn’t found a name for. It looks like it won’t work on paper, but, once in the glass, it is pretty tasty.

[35ml Oliver Twist Gin, 15ml Lemon Juice, 5ml White Creme de Cacao, 5ml Creme de Menthe 100ml Soda Water]

The drink looks like a normal Collins and, initially, that is the flavour that you get: a fresh, dry mix of gin and lemon juice, but after the lemon, juniper and coriander, you get a subtle finish of dry mint chocolate. It works surprisingly well and makes you keep on sipping.

The Artful Dodger (Gin & Jam)
A variation on a drink from the 1930s Savoy Cocktail book, The Marmalade Cocktail. I’ve substituted the marmalade for jam in a nod to the Jammy Dodger biscuits.

[35ml Oliver Twist Gin, Juice of Half a Lemon, 1tsp Jam – SHAKE]

This works well, although it’s important not to overdo on your measure of gin, so that you just get a jammy, strawberry finish subtly in the background. There’s a good amount of fresh tartness form the lemon juice, which works well with the angelica and coriander in the gin; to top it off, juniper comes through too. Scrumptious.

In Conclusion
Oliver Twist Gin has a small number of botanicals, but is still very flavourful. It is of a classic style of gin that works well in the traditional cocktails, such as a Gin & Tonic, but I also found that it made some delicious contemporary drinks such as the combination with Umbongo and in The Artful Dodger.

Oliver Twist Gin is available for around £26 for 70cl from The Whisky Exchange

Cocktails with… Limbrey’s London Dry Gin

On Saturday, Mrs. B and I had the luck to be invited to this year’s “Taste of Christmas Festival”. There were plenty of drinks-related stands there and we were fortunate enough to sit in on a De Luze Cognac and a Botran Rum tasting with Distillnation. Another stand of great interest was that of Limbrey’s London Dry Gin. Having chatted to him on the telephone, it was a treat to finally meet Sean Limbrey, the man behind the bottle.

Limbrey’s London Dry Gin is a very new product. Compared to the makers of the plethora of “Boutique Gins” that have been released in the last couple of years, the man behind Limbrey’s, Sean Limbrey, has taken a rather different approach to gin. Moving away from the use of unique or exotic botanicals and luxurious packaging, he’s produced a gin that sits in the sub-£20 price range. With striaght-forward, easily recyclable bottle, which sits inside a plastic sleeve.
Speaking to the gin’s cretaor there is a bit of counter-culture going on, there are two designs of sleeve for the bottle. My current favourite is the sleeve with a banker being squeezed of his money by the giant fist of the Gin genie.* Also currently available is the “Shouty Mouth” which is a reference of feeling against the nanny state and CCTV. When asked about the packaging Sean said:
“The designs are meant to have a point that resonates with the drinker in a humourous satirical way that also looks attractive and ties in with the Limbrey’s gin brand of being – created, distilled, and bottled in London.”
My understanding is that sleeves will change from time to time, similar in someways to the Absolut Limited Edition Packaging.
When I spoke to Sean, he told me about his enthusiasm and pride that Dry Gin is very much a British drink and that, in creating a gin, he wanted to stoke the fires of that pride by creating a product that could be drunk in a more simple or traditional way; basically, on it’s own or in very simple gin cocktails.He advocates keeping Limbrey’s Gin in the freezer and enjoying it neat as an accompaniment to food; this is quite similar to how some eaux de vies are drunk on the continent.

He also spoke about the fact that, for many consumers, mixing cocktails at home is not practical and that many mixers are either too sweet or too expensive. As a result, he is an advocate of simple cocktails with simple ingredients. Mrs. B and I enjoyed a Gin and Cranberry and a Gin and Pink Grapefruit (I didn’t even think I liked Grapefruit), which were both tasty and refreshing.

Limbrey’s Dry Gin is the first gin to be approved by the Vegetarian Society, it is bottled at 37.5% ABV, it’s made at Thames Distillers, in London, and contains four botanicals:




Winter Savory

1) Own
Mr Limbrey had told me that his gin was very smooth, but as I hear this a lot, I was genuinely surprised at how smooth the gin was. I’m sure that the 37.5%ABV helps with this, but, in fairness, some of the roughest gins that I have tasted have also been bottled at this strength.
nose: very classic-style iof nose with juniper and coriander a little earthiness something like angelica and a touch of pepper.
taste:The first thing you notice is how smooth he gin is, even holding it in your mouth for 30 second produces only a slight warmth. Initial flavours of fresh juniper, more green than piney, there is some sweetness toward the end which is accompanied by lemon and coriander.

2) Frozen
This has a good, strong, classic gin character, with juniper, coriander, and citrus. It has a nice texture: silky, with a bit of sweetness; it’s very smooth and easy to drink. As smooth as a good quality flavour, but with more flavour..

3) Over Ice
Very pleasant, not how I usually drink gin but I can see how this could work. In addition to the juniper some of the more floral notes of the gin come through a little more.

4) Gin & Juice
i) Orange
Fresh and crisp a slight citrus and juniper dry twang comes through as does a little sweet spice. A pleasant quencher.
ii) Cranberry
A really nice combination dryness of the gin is a great match for the dryness of the cranberry and the gin can still be appreciated. It’s surprising that more people don’t drink gin andd cranberry juice.
iii) Pear
A bit of an odd conversation this one, I think the pear is a bit too sweet for the gin and actually it’s difficult to taste that the gin is there. This may be great for some but I like to taste my juniper.

iv) Apple
Other than Bison-grass Vodka I’ve always struggled to find a good cocktail using apple juice. This is actually quite good, initially you get the sweet succulent apple juice and this si then followed up by the more intense dry juniper of the gin.

v) Pomegranate
Not bad and quite refreshing although some might find it a tad sickly, with a dash of lemon juice the drink becomes much more balanced.

vi) Pink Grapefruit
Pink Grapefruit and gin and usually quite good partners and this is no exception. the bitterness of the grapefruit works very well with the dryness of the gin. This giving you a refreshing and bracing drink.

5) Peter Cushing
Why Peter Cushing? Well, first off, I’m a great fan of his films and secondly, he was a patron of the Vegetarian Society and Limbrey’s is the first gin that has been approved by the Vegetarian Society. My aim was to create a drink that was simple and accessible, with a touch of sophistication.

2 Parts Gin, 1 Part Ginger Wine

This is quite nice and works well being made using a number of different methods: with the gin being poured straight from the freezer, served on the rocks, or shaken with ice and then strained. The latter version makes a smoother drink that’s a little more dilute.

6) Gin & Tonic

OK so I’ve broken rule about tossing out the tonic but I still think a good way to measure a gin is by how it mixes with Quinine water. The makes a very smooth and easy to drink gin and tonic, refreshing and pretty quaffable. The only character that really comes through from the gin is the juniper and so whilst it is a good drink it’s perhaps not the best way to appreciate the gin.

7) Martini
Lovely, clean and crisp; the flavour was predominantly of juniper, with a tiny touch of cream. This is a great gin to use to make a Diamond or Naked Martini.

8) Negroni
Smooth, with a growing crescendo of flavour that peaks at the end with a crisp and intense bitterness. It was more bitter than many Negronis, with a more pronounced juniper note at the end. That said, despite it being more bitter, it was one of the few Negronis that Mrs. B has ever said she quite liked.

9) Pink Gin/Gin & Bitters
I’ve been a bit economical with the original Pink Gin recipe and so I’ve extended this note to cover a range of Gin & Bitters. All drinks used 25ml of Gin from the freezer and 3 drops of the respective bitters.

i) Angostura
This made a simple drink that was very clean and smooth, with the bitters adding some character and a sweet, spicy finish.

ii) Orange
The orange is quite prominent in this drink, but works well to bring out the citrus characteristics of the gin, especially the coriander seed. Some characteristics, such as texture of orange liqueur, but without any excessive sweetness.

iii) Peychauds
This made a very pink Gin & Bitters, with predominate flavours of anise and angelica. It was more herbal and complex then the others that I have tried and had a little more warmth at the end.

*Interestingly this is apparently quite popular with merchant/investment bankers.

Cocktails with… Perivale Dry Gin – from Fabulous

Mrs. B and I always enjoy a field trip and we equally enjoy talking to the creator of a brand and hearing about their passion for their products. So, as you can imagine, we were delighted when we were invited up to The Fabulous Vodka Company HQ to meet the founder, Chris Spiller.

Chris makes Perivale Gin, in addition to a variety of other products: Caralicious Caramel Vodka, Krol Kazimiersz (a rather excellent potato vodka), and some aged vodkas. The concept behind the latter is that the Krol Kazimiersz Vodka is aged in barrels in one-off batches; when it’s gone, it’s gone. Here are my notes on the two that I tried:

Cask One (Oak)
This has a light straw colour and light vanilla cream on the nose. The vodka itself is very smooth, with gently rounded edges and a little extra vanilla/cream/caramel flavour. Complex and curious.

Cask Two (Rum)
This is a work-in-progress and so we were privileged to try it. It has been in a dark rum cask for about three months, with perhaps another three to go. If I had tried this blind-folded and been told that it was a dark rum, I would have believed it; the flavour profile was so similar; the dark sugar and slightly burnt/toasted elements were there. I thought that this was great, even though it was only halfway through the aging process, and am looking forward to trying the finished product.

Perivale Dry Gin
Perivale Dry Gin is a one-shot distillation, which is produced when the pure grain spirit and the botanicals are placed, in exact proportions, in a still and distilled, producing a single batch of gin. Although this method is more expensive than others, it is seen as enabling a better aroma to be produced, as well as bringing out fuller and fresher flavours from the botanicals. Chris makes the gin himself (he is an experience distiller) using the facilities at Thames Distillers in London.
Perivale contains five botanicals:

Why Perivale?
The name Perivale comes from a time when Chris lived on a house boat (see the label) in the area of the same name. According to him, there is a distinct lack of pubs in the area, hence the play on the term “dry”.

The Current Perivale Gin Bottle by The Fabulous Vodka Company

The nose was clean, with notes of juniper, angelica and coriander.
The gin was soft & silky with quite a strong flavour of juniper; it had a distinct freshness in the middle of the profile that made it rather excellent. It’s a very clean spirit and when I gave some, neat, to my cousin (who isn’t normally a gin-drinker), he enjoyed it.
Gin & Tonic
Very refreshing, with fresh flavours of juniper and citrus. Well-balanced, easy to drink and quickly finished. Simply superb.

Exceptionally clean and crisp, like a shard of ice. Perfect with a twist of lemon peel. This is another good quality drink and is a decent benchmark for other Martinis.

Quite crisp, with the gin coming through strongly and standing up well against the Rose’s Lime Cordial, but the flavours seem a little out of kilter and, for me, it doesn’t really work.

There’s a good, strong bitterness, with juniper and angelica coming through to start, followed by a touch of sweetness. Big and bold and a very typical Negroni; full of flavour and smooth.

Gin Old Fashioned
Packed with flavour and very smooth. The simple flavours of the gin came through and mixed well with both the sugar and bitters. Very sippable.

Pink Gin
Crisp, dry and bitter. The character of the gin was particularly pronounced on the finish. This is a simple and pleasant way to enjoy the gin.

Gin Sour
Tasty, crisp and refreshing. Juniper, lime and a hint of vanilla. I thought this was a great short drink to use the gin in and should invigorate you at the end of a long, hot day.

Fruit Cup
Tasty and refreshing, the gin came through more than in most fruit cups, giving the drink an extra juniper punch; for a gin fan, this is great.

Frozen with Lime
If I get to speak to the creators of a gin, I like to ask them how they drink their gin. This little recipe was given to me by Chris. Take your gin from where it’s being stored in the freezer, pour into a glass and add a little wedge of lime. Sip.
Delicious and wonderfully smooth, like a good vodka. Flavours of juniper, coriander and angelica as well as some citrus; the lime adds a touch of freshness and a little zip. Excellent.

Perivale Dry Gin is available from The Fabulous Vodka Company and Gerry’s of Soho at £21.50 for 70cl.

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.

Cocktails with… Knockeen Hills Elderflower Gin

Not content with the success of their Irish Poteen and Heather Gin the folks at Knockeen Hills decided to release another product, an elderflower gin that uses elderflower as one of the botanicals, this is not a very common botanical to use and is a tricky ingredient to get right.
Bottled at 47.3%ABV Knockeen Hills uses a base Irish Spirit that is distilled five times and the botanicals it uses are steeped for 24 hours. It is described as “London Cut” which means in addition to being a London Dry Gin it is, distilled and cut in London.

Knockeen Hills Elderflower Gin is distilled at Thames Distillers and uses only four botanicals (a stark difference to the last Gin I reviewed) these are:

  • Organic Juniper Berries
  • Organic Coriander Seeds
  • Organic Elderflower
  • Liquorice powder

#1) Neat
Good nose, medium amount of juniper with some floral notes. Great warmth (not burn) on the tongue with juniper and elderflower. Not overpowering and subtle. The warmth of the texture intrigues me.

#2) Gin & Tonic
This makes quite a strong Gin & Tonic (the gin is 47.3%). The very heart of the gin seems to come through with a floral taste at the back of the mouth; the straight-forward juniper flavour is followed by the dryness from the elderflower. It’s interesting, because elderflower is often associated with something sweet (cordial, liqueurs, etc.), but this is definitely dry. Mrs. B was very fond of this drink, as it reminded her of cut green apples.

#3) Martini
I used some home-made vermouth for this martini, which complemented the Gin quite well and seemed to give the drink more flavour than usual. Knockeen Elderflower Gin does not make a classic Martini: it’s not so clean and crisp as others, but it is not overpowering and has a lot of character. I like this drink and it makes a nice change.

#4) Gimlet
An unusual Gimlet; less sweet than usual and, in the middle of the taste profile, the drink has a remarkably clean edge, almost Martini-like. There were subtle notes from the floral elements and the gin stands up well to the lime cordial.

#5) Aviation
There’s some great interaction of the elderflower and other floral elements with the violette and maraschino in this drink; it’s complex, but the flavours are all in equilibrium. Very tasty.

#6) Tom Collins
This Collins is, like many, a wonderful cooler. It is very refreshing, but sadly the gin is a little overpowered.

#7) Bramble
Very tasty; there’s equal intensity from each of the various ingredients, all combining to produce a fresh drink that reminds me of Spring. Crisp & delicious.

#8) White Lady:
Fresh and crisp, perfect for Spring or early Summer. There’s a good amount of juniper and distinct floral elements on the finish.

#9) Alexander
I increased the proportions of Gin for this one, so that some of the dry muskiness of gin comes through. The Knockeen Elderflower contributes more to the cocktail that most other gins that I’ve tried.

#10) Gin Bump (Buck)
The Gin Bump was a disappointment as the sweetness of the ginger ale clashed with the floral notes of the gin. Not recommended.

#11) Gin Sour
Pretty strong; you seem to feel the full whack of the 47.3% in this drink. It seemed to warm me up, rather than cool me down (which a gin sour typically would do), and, flavour-wise, it doesn’t do the Gin justice.

#12) Sweet Gin
This was an idea for a cocktail (if you can call it that) that just occurred to me: I simply added half a teaspoon of simple syrup to a measure of Gin. I was surprised at how well it worked and how it brought out a new dimension of flavours: it was almost like an elderflower liqueur, but tasted more complex.

#13) Clover Club
In a similar way to the White Lady, this was balanced, simple, tasty and enjoyable to drink.

#14) Gin Old-fashioned
Fast becoming a new favourite of mine, the Gin Old-Fashioned with Knockeen Hills Elderflower is delicious. Sugar sweetens up the floral elements (just like the Sweet Gin) which stops the Angostura from dominating the drink. This is a superb way to enjoy the gin.

In Conclusion
Knockeen Hills Elderflower Gin is crisp and flavourful. The floral elements lend themselves well to a variety of cooling drinks, making it perfect for Spring or Summer (although I am still enjoying it during Winter!). Sometimes I think that when gins highlight one, single, botanical it can be a bit gimmicky and the rest of the gin profile seems to suffer, but I don’t think that that is the case with this gin.

Cocktail highlights included: Gin & Tonic (especially James Bond style),  the Gimlet,  the Aviation & the Gin Old Fashioned.

Knockeen Hills Elderflower Gin is available from The Drink Shop here: for £26.44 for 70cl.

Cocktails with… Beefeater Winter

It seems that Beefeater have excelled themselves in gin innovation this year by launching not just one, but two seasonal varieties of their gin. Beefeater Winter follows their summer edition and, in addition to Beefeater’s normal botanicals, takes flavour from pine shoots, cinnamon and nutmeg. Given the very festive nature of this gin and Mrs. B’s new fondness for hot cocktails, in a new twist for “Cocktails with…”, one half of the drinks we tried were hot.


#1 Gin & Tonic
We tried this in an icicle Gin & Tonic, using real icicles from a recent cold snap. I really enjoyed this drink, as I do normally with Beefeater, but it was only at the end that I could tell the two apart: Beefeater Winter has a much spicier nose.

#2 Martini
A good Martini; the extra botanicals in Beefeater Winter complement the vermouth well and, although the drink itself was stirred until ice cold, it seemed more warming than your average Gin & It.

#3 Gimlet
A subtle and smooth Gimlet; the gin balances out the lime cordial and is quiet until the end, when the winter spice comes through, followed by a little juniper bitterness.

#4 White Lady
Beefeater Winter produced a beautifully smooth White Lady, and, as with some of the other cocktails we tried, the difference between normal Beefeater is noticeable at the finish of the cocktail.

#5 Aviation
A crisp Aviation. Although it is quite nice, I preferred most of the other drinks.

#6 Bramble
The Bramble rather overpowers Beefeater Winter, with the Creme de Mure making it too sweet; the ingredients don’t seem to blend well.

Icicle Gin & Tonic (with real Icicles!) made with Beefeater Winter

The HOT Ones

#7 Mistletoe Mist
The cranberry and mint are well matched and the nature of the gin means that the flavour comes through without overpowering the drink. This hot and fruity cocktail is a nice alternative to most hot toddies and nogs, as it’s neither creamy nor based on honey.

#8 Hot Apple Gin
This smelt liked apple sauce and reminds me of home-made stewed apples. The warmth of the gin comes through, with a little spice and some apple freshness; it’s a good alternative to the standard hot gin toddy. Mrs B. says it reminded her of a hot apple pie.

#9 Hot Alexander
A hot version of the Original Gin Alexander, this was a punt, but I was pleased with how it worked out. The standard drink is usually served ice cold and so isn’t so great for the winter, but the hot version has a delicious creaminess and provides a good appreciation of the gin and its wintery notes.

#10 Gin Egg Nog
This was a hot variation of the recipe provided by Beefeater. It tasted a little like cake batter, with a flavour of the gin at the end. The gin works well, as it is not too overpowering, but provides some spice. The drink tastes a bit like custard, but, when you consider the ingredients, that’s not too surprising.

#11 Hot Gin Toddy
I think the garnish of cloves add something to the flavour and complements the Beefeater Winter well. This gin makes a very classic gin toddy.

#12 Bakewell
Tastes like a Christmas Bakewell tart: a little milky, with sweet almond notes, all finished off with a cherry garnish. Some juniper and spice at the end.

#13 Buttered Beefeater
Hot buttered rum, Beefeater style. This was incredibly indulgent and probably should take the place of a pudding. It tastes of caramel and butter, reminding me a tad of raw flapjack mix. Drinking it through a top of layer of whipped cream adds to the sweetness and the coolness of the cream contrasts nicely with the warmth of the drink. I used molasses sugar, which seemed to work better with the flavours of this particular gin.

Beefeater Gin's Master Distiller Desmond Payne and DTS

Beefeater Gin’s Master Distiller Desmond Payne and DTS

In conclusion, I think this is another great innovation and, although I think it works well in some of the cold drinks, it really shines in the hotties; with a bit of innovation and seasonal flair, you can find some perfect winter warmers to make with this gin.

After this review, it begs one question: in the future will there be other seasonal variants of Beefeater? Perhaps a spring or autumnal gin? Time will tell, but I for one would like to see them!

Available for around £18-£20 for 70cl from The DrinkShop & The Whisky Exchange.

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Cocktails with… Sacred Christmas Pudding Gin

Sacred’s Christmas Pudding Gin

The other day I was looking on Sacred Gin’s website under “Exotics”; this section features limited editions or single bottlings of varieties of Sacred Gin, including some of the most interesting distilled ports that I have ever heard off. Then, subtly placed at the bottom of the list, I saw an entry for Christmas Pudding Gin.

Father Christmas is in for a treat this year!

So how is it made? Christmas pudding is infused in Sacred Gin for three months and the resultant liquid is then re-distilled and bottled.

Having recently undertaken extensive experimentation with mincemeat vodka/liqueur, I thought I’d give it a try.

The taste:

Neat: It starts off softly and then starts to warm your mouth. Quite a strong flavour of dark fruit cake, a similar bitterness. The juniper still is there, but the overall flavour is about much more than that. A few minutes after drinking, my mouth feels like I’ve just eaten some Christmas pudding, including getting a sense of, strangely enough, its texture; it’s unusual, but I like it.

Frozen: Certainly an improvement on room temperature: drinking it from the freezer brings out the fruit from the pudding. Mostly raisin, but some other mixed fruit too. The gin is incredibly smooth. but has a little warm kick at the end. Tasty.

Martini: A crisp Martini with a slightly different finish; not citrus, but again, a slightly cakey, dark richness and some mincemeat spice in the mid-notes. I never thought a Martini could be partiularly festive, but I guess I was wrong.

Toddy: I’m usually a fan of hot toddies anyway, but this particular one has something else: it is cosier and more comforting, as the usual dry element of this drink, from the gin, is replaced by a gentle spice. Really, really good.

G&T: Quite a nice gin and tonic, sweet and quite refreshing. A little burnt fruit at the end. Good, but I think there are better ways to appreciate the gin.

In conclusion: I do find all of the experiments that Scared get up to very interesting, and if you haven’t heard of them, it’s worth checking their website. With regards to the Christmas Gin, it was something I really enjoyed, both for the novelty and for the flavours. I found that almost every drink I tried it in finished with a combination of toasted sugar and the dark, cakey after-flavour of Christmas pudding. I’m not sure how many bottles are left, but if it sounds like it appeals to you, I’d buy sooner rather than later.

Sacred Christmas Pudding Gin is available for £14.95 for 20cl from their website.

For more of our Gin Reviews please click here

Cocktails with… Foxdenton

With so many excellent reviews of various Gins online, I found myself hesitant when I considered how best to test a Gin for one of my posts. I eventually concluded that, rather than just tasting the Gin and trying it with tonic and in a Martini – an excellent method in itself – I would instead try a greater array of Gin cocktails. I thought I would test this method with a rather new Gin: Foxdenton. I would just like to state that my list of eighteen Gin cocktails is by no means exhaustive and my method is a work-in-progress.

Foxdenton Gin is produced by the Foxdenton Estate Company in Winslow, Buckinghamshire*. The Estate itself dates back to 1367. They also produce sloe, raspberry and blackcurrant Gin.

Foxdenton includes the following botanicals:

  • Juniper
  • Angelica Root
  • Coriander
  • Lemon Peel
  • Orris Root
  • Lime Flower

#1 Foxdenton Gin – Neat

The strength of this Gin (48% ABV) produces a strong tingling sensation in the mouth and it’s certainly a Gin that packs a punch. It has pronounced flavours of citrus and juniper, particularly on the finish. This a Gin-lover’s Gin and moves away from a recent trend of gentle, more “sippable” Gins being created.

#2 Gin & Tonic

I started with Schweppes Tonic. Why? Because it is one of the best selling there is. I found that a hearty garnish of lemon really complemented the mix of Gin and Schewppes, although, out of personal preference, I would tend to use Fentimans; this is because Foxdenton benefits from the lemongrass flavours in Fentimans, making for a rather tasty drink.

#3 Martini

A lovely crisp and clear Martini; simple, as a Martini should be. Works well with a lemon twist as a garnish. The extra strength works well in this and it was well-liked by the Martini drinkers in the group.

#4 Gimlet

Here, I think, Foxdenton excels: Foxdenton and Rose’s Lime Cordial are a great combination. There was some disagreement as to whether the drink was better with a splash of soda, but it was unanimous that both were very good. The one downside is that the lime does hide some of the subtleties of the Gin, but it is still a tasty drink.

#5 John Collins

Another favourite, although I was perhaps a little lighter on the sugar and lemon than I would be generally. This is incredibly drinkable, with a nice juniper kick at the end. The extra strength of the Gin was noticeable, but certainly not overpowering. This was a great summer drink but one that I could enjoy year-round.

#6 Bramble

Pleasant; the strength of the Gin is still apparent, but its flavour, in particular its citrus notes, contrasts well with the sweetness of the Creme de Mure. A lovely little drink and a good use of the Gin. A variant of this using Foxdenton’s Blackjack would be interesting.

#7 Gin Fix

A grandfather of a cocktail; quite easy to drink and, although it gives the Gin some warmth, it truly doesn’t do this particular Gin justice.

#8 White Lady

The extra kick provided by the Gin’s 48% strength is nice a change for this drink, making it strong, yet smooth. Whilst this is a less delicate White Lady than most, it certainly makes more of an impression and is therefore strongly recommended.

#9 Gin Sour

This shows off the Gin almost as well as drinking it neat. The Foxdenton’s flavour really comes through: the juniper dominates, and there is a neat marriage between the lemon juice and the Gin’s citrus. A good way to savour the Gin’s characteristics.

#10 Pendennis

Not an outstanding mix, but the various ingredients do produce lots of flavour in a partnership where the Gin still pulls its own.

#11 Aviation

Clean and crisp; a little lemon, with a compliment of juniper at the end. I really liked this drink and think that it makes a very palatable alternative to a Martini. It would be great to try this with some of the newly released Creme Yvette: a floral liqueur that has not been previously available for a few decades.

#12 Milano

This is not a stereotypical Gin cocktail, but it was suggested by a friend. It is a mix of Gin, Galliano and Lemon Juice. This was surprisingly nice and the ingredients all mix well together, the herbs and spice of the Galliano being a pleasant complement to the Gin’s botanicals.

#13 Clover Club

Another delicious combination: the muskiness of the juniper contrasts with the syrup’s sweetness and both balance out the lemon juice. This cocktail gives the Gin its due, is very, very smooth and delightfully moreish.

#14 Alexander

Mrs. B thought this tasted like alcoholic ice-cream and, indeed, it is very tasty, but masks the flavour of the Gin; still, a nice drink.

#15 Dubonet Cocktail

This drink allows the flavours of the Gin to come through and the bitterness of the Dubonet compliments that of the juniper. This is rather different to the other drinks that we tried and showcases the Gin in a different way, but it did make me feel rather hungry and could make a fine aperitif. All in all, it  works well.

#16 Negroni

I have to disclose that I am not a big fan of Campari and so the Negroni is not my usual cocktail of choice, but being a classic Gin cocktail, I thought it should be included. Foxdenton does make one of the better Negronis that I have had, but, although you can taste the Gin, this drink is still dominated by the bitterness of the Campari.

#17 Bronx

Nice and cool, but not a drink that is really to my taste. There is a strong flavour of juniper, but the citrus in the Gin does not work as well with the orange notes in this cocktail as it has done with those of lemon and lime in previous drinks.

#18 Ramos Gin Fizz

Despite how unique and tasty this drink is, you almost wouldn’t know that it had any Gin in it at all. If you wanted to enjoy the various flavours of Foxdenton this is not the best way to do so.

In conclusion, Foxdenton works well in citrus drinks such as the Gin Sour, White Lady and Aviation. It is best enjoyed in a Martini with a twist of lemon and, when mixed with tonic, is well suited to a healthy wedge of lemon as a garnish, but my favourite Foxdenton drink was the Gimlet (although there were some close runners-up).

If you like a Gin with a good strength (both flavour and proof) and are a hearty fan of juniper or citrus cocktails, Foxdenton is something I would strongly recommend you try.

Foxdenton Gin (48%ABV) £23.40 for 70cl

As requested the recipes can be found here.

For more of our Gin Reviews please click here

*Technically the gin is actually made at Thames Distillers in London