Beefeater gin

This review of Beefeater gin has been a long time coming. I bought a bottle from Sainsbury’s toward the end of last year. However, disaster struck on the way home when the bottom of the cheapo carrier bag fell out and the bottle smashed upon the ground. I was availed with tremendous waft of gin as the rain began to wash away the spilled three-quarters of a litre of my favoured tipple toward the gutters. I even cut myself recovering the smashed remnants of the bottle from the pavement.

Beefeater Gin
Beefeater Gin

Anyway, after a constructive, but unimpressed, email to Sainsbury’s, I became the proud owner of a gift-card with just enough credit to buy another bottle of Beefeater. I used a stronger carrier-bag the second time around and managed to get it home in one piece.

This was all before Christmas and I have been imbibing Sipsmith and Whitley Neill ever since. Now the Neill is gone and the Sipsmith is near to running dry, I thought I would open the bottle of Beefeater that had been gathering dust over the last month.

What is more iconic in the gin world than Beefeater? A favourite of generations, Beefeater was the only gin available on the maiden voyage of the QE2 in 1969 and is the top-selling gin in the US, as well as many other countries around the globe.

Beefeater is a London Dry Gin and claims nine botanicals; these are…

  • Juniper
  • Seville orange peel
  • Lemon peel
  • Angelica root
  • Angelica seed
  • Orris root
  • Coriander seed
  • Almond
  • Liquorice

These ingredients are steeped for 24 hours in pure grain alcohol before being distilled into the (almost) final product. A week’s output is blended together to create the Beefeater we find on the shelves – this is done because the steeping that is started on Friday is not distilled until the following Monday; this results in Monday’s batch being very flavour-heavy compared with the rest of the week’s production. The blending process ensures a uniform product that is bottled and sold. All of this is conducted under the watchful eye of Desmond Payne, Beefeater’s Master Distiller.

Anyway, enough of the detail, on with the tasting…

Sniffing the bottle-opening rewarded my nose with juniper and faint hints of citrus and spice. Nothing too striking but reassuringly gin.

Sampled neat, this is definitely gin, but I found it rather harsh with little character to speak of. Adding water to the mix did little to mitigate the harshness of this gin and bought-out little extra in the way of flavour or scent.

The addition of tonic water (and lime) brought this gin alive though. It is definitely a gin with Juniper being fairly heavily present and it carried a clear citrus element. There was a faint, lingering spiciness in the after-taste, but it had to be looked for.

In many ways Beefeater was a surprise to me; I was expecting something more akin to Gordon’s, but was pleasantly surprised to find that it is a distinct cut above its cousin. Its botanicals dictate that it is a very traditional gin, and it does deliver this – there are few frills or unique selling points, but it fulfils the role of a stock-gin very well. Nothing to write home about but certainly nothing to complain about either.

One last point of interest. Beefeater gin depicts, what one might reasonably assume, a Beefeater on the bottle. However, the predominately red uniform would mark this figure out as a Yeoman of the Guard rather than a Yeoman Warder (which are popularly known as Beefeaters). Saying that, I doubt many would care for the difference and this is a mistake that Gilbert and Sullivan made in their opera, The Yeomen of the Guard.


8 thoughts on “Beefeater gin”

  1. As always, I have to correct you. The red and gold uniform which the Beefeater wears is correct. For the most part a Yeoman Warder wears undress (that is to say the black uniform which would traditionally be worn under a suit of armour) but when the Queen is in attendance, the Yeoman Warders wear Tudor State Dress, which is very similar to that worn by the Yeoman of the Guard.


  2. Beefeater has a lot of points going for it:
    1) It has a good juniper signature that is rather present but not overwhelming. And its balance with coriander is just right so its not too sharp.
    2) There is no masking of the juniper with citrus but the citrus notes are present. Again, a good balance.
    3) It is overproof by today’s standards (94 proof) which wasn’t considered overproof back in the day. Gives older recipes a more accurate feel.
    4) It has a great price ($27 for 1.75L here in the States).

    I agree, it makes a great house gin. Especially when there is no reason to use artisanal gins (i.e.: drinks that contain orange juice, egg, etc. that mask subtle flavors and marks of superior quality).

  3. Beefeater is my first choice in gin. It has a really crisp and wonderful taste, what gin should taste like. I’ve tried them all, and this is my very favorite. The UK version is 80 proof, but the US proof is 94 which gives it that wonderful extra “punch.” Fantastic gin.

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