September 12th, 2009

Beefeater 24


When I mention to the uninitiated imbiber that I like Beefeater gin, I get strange looks. In the world of sexy, new-style gins like Hendricks and Tanqueray 10, whose flavors are designed to appeal to the juniper-shy, Beefeater is viewed as an old-man drink. But to people who actually put vermouth in their Martinis and enjoy an honest-to-goodness Tom Collins, Beefeater is a classic. The fact that Audrey Saunders endorses it doesn’t hurt, either.

The brand recently launched a new gin, Beefeater 24, in Boston. “Distilled in the heart of England’s capital, Beefeater 24 takes its name from the unique 24-hour steeping process and the city’s 24-hour stylish and sophisticated lifestyle,” says the press release. I know, that “lifestyle” line is a doozy, but “stylish and sophisticated” perfectly describe the gin’s packaging. It’s more “swinging London,” less “British Empire.” Blessedly, though, the spirit’s flavor evokes the latter.

While Beefeater 24 adds three new botanicals (Japanese Sencha tea, Chinese green tea and Spanish grapefruit peel) to the original nine (juniper, Seville orange peel, lemon peel, angelica root, angelica seed, orris root, licorice, coriander seed and almond), it tastes quite a bit like regular Beefeater. The tea flavors are really, really understated and create a slight tannic finish; Beefeater’s traditional citrusy character gets a little more complexity from the grapefruit peel; and the 24 is softer in the mouth than the original. Otherwise, it’s as London-dry and cocktail-friendly as its parent. It’s also more expensive, of course, at $29/750 ml compared to $22 or so for the original. (The 24 cuts out more of the heads and tails, or beginning and end products of distillation, resulting in a smoother spirit.)

Beefeater master distiller and all-around nice guy Desmond Payne, who was in town for the launch, seemed pleased as punch by his new creation — the first recipe he has been called upon to devise in his 40+ years making gin, first for Plymouth, then for Beefeater. He mentioned that one of his favorite gin drinks is a Negroni, and he was excited about 24’s debut aligning with the resurgence in classic cocktails. The growth in demand for the flavors of old means that Payne could unabashedly create a new gin for the gin drinker.

Gin Old-Fashioned
Created for the Beefeater 24 launch party at Drink

2 oz Beefeater 24
1/4 oz gomme syrup (2 parts sugar, 1 part water)
1 dash bergamot bitters (house-made)
1 dash Angostura orange bitters

Build in a heavy-bottomed rocks glass and stir well over a large lump of ice.

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6 Responses to “Beefeater 24”

  1. Allen Rines

    My martinis generally favor Bombay Sapphire (with vermouth, thank you), but each gin has its own points of appeal, and its nice to try different ones from time to time. Magellan’s is a personal fave for a walk on the wild side, when I can find it. I’ll have to give the Beefeater a try (both the regular and the 24) next time I’m at Drink.

  2. ljclark

    Allen, you’re right about gins having different points of appeal. Even the master distiller for Beefeater insists on Plymouth for a Pink Gin, for example. I know several former Sapphire devotees who have switched or at least branched out to other gins, like Beefeater, Plymouth, regular Bombay or Martin Miller’s, not to mention smaller brands like Bluecoat or Greylock.

  3. Michael Dietsch

    There’s no such damn thing as too many gins.

  4. dave

    Hold on, I like Beefeater… does that mean I’m initiated?

    This new Beefeater is intriguing however so I will have to hunt it out.

    Any other concoctions (that would bring out the subtle differences of 24) you would recommend besides “the old fashioned”?

  5. ljclark

    Looks like you are, Dave. Try the 24 in a Martini, a Pegu Club, a G&T, or with fresh grapefruit juice and a splash of soda (the last suggestion recommended by Desmond)… really any cocktail you’d make with regular Beefeater.

  6. leswes

    I like to try different gins when I order a martini at a bar, but my house gin has always been Beefeater. I will have to give this new Beefeater 24 a try, however–thanks for the heads up!

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