We were privileged enough to be invited to a private guided tour of the brand new Beefeater visitor’s center with the master of gin himself, Desmond Payne. And what a treat this was.
The visitor’s center begins with a walk through gin history, coupled with the history of Beefeater and James Burrough. Everything from gin lane / beer street, the lamentable death of Madam Genever (god rest her soul, gone but not forgotten), the roaring 20’s, cocktails and prohibition, a glorious collection of gin bottles, advertising posters and gin paraphernalia. It’s a wonderful collection and well worth a visit.
Following this we were met by Desmond, a true gentleman, who took us through to the distillery for our private tour via the bar, where we had a cheeky G and T (of course) and a very nice chat. We saw the stills which are home to Beefeater, Beefeater 24, the new Beefeater London Garden and, very excitedly, we saw the casks which are home to Beefeater Burrough’s Reserve – sitting there quietly, resting and ageing and becoming the joy that is Burrough’s reserve gin. It was fantastic to learn about how the gin is created, right down to the manual, old style scales which are used to weigh out the botanicals.
It was a truly unique afternoon and whilst we were treated to a very special tour, I would highly recommend a visit to the distillery and visitors center, not least to acquire yourself a bottle of the brand new, exclusive edition Beefeater London Garden gin which takes its inspiration from the Chelsea psysic garden, where it’s believed James Burrough visited and which helped him develop his skills as a master distiller.
So on to the gin!
On the nose there is a lovely, lively, fresh citrus note balanced with plenty of Juniper, it shouts summertime and this is largely owing to the lemon verbena used.
Sipping straight on ice – on the palate it is very clean, crisp and very dry with a pleasant, bitter orange (marmalade) element and also a light sweetness. With tonic, the sweetness comes out a little more and opens it up, but it retains a clean, crisp, juniper and citrus flavour and lovely back of the throat dryness.
I think this is going to make an excellent Negroni, and as a summer time gin and tonic we would zest with orange peel, and garnish with a sliced cape gooseberry, to make a quintessential english summer drink for the discerning palette.
This is an excellent gin and very, very drinkable indeed.
And thank you Desmond for a most enjoyable day.