What Is Beefeater London Dry Gin?

Production, Types, and Recipes

Beefeater London Dry Gin Gimlet Cocktails

Ford Media Lab 

In the world of gin, Beefeater is an iconic brand. This London dry gin is distilled with nine botanicals and has been a favorite for generations of martini lovers. Its classic styling, familiar bottle and taste, and availability have made Beefeater one of the best-known and best-tasting gins available. Quite simply, it's a gin that you can rely on for a great cocktail.

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    Beefeater London Dry Gin

    Fast Facts

    • Ingredients: Neutral grain spirit, juniper, 8 other botanicals
    • Proof: 80–94
    • ABV: 40–47%
    • Calories in a shot: 65
    • Origin: Kensington, London
    • Taste: Dry, piney, herbal, fruity
    • Serve: Cocktails
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    What Is Beefeater London Dry Gin Made From?

    The story of Beefeater London Dry Gin is one of the oldest among modern gins. It began in the 1860s when founder James Burrough bought a Chelsea, London distillery where he produced a variety of gins. Within a decade, Beefeater became the distillery's flagship bottle. By the 1960s, Beefeater accounted for three of every four bottles of gin imported into the United States and its popularity has not waned.

    Beefeater is distilled today at a Kensington, London distillery where it's been made since 1958. The brand is owned by Pernod Ricard. Its signature figure pictured on the bottle still alludes to the name's inspiration: the Tower of London guards, known as the "Beefeaters."

    The recipe for Beefeater has gone unchanged since Burrough first perfected it. The base is a neutral grain spirit in which the natural (often whole) botanicals are steeped for 24 hours. The infusion includes nine botanicals: almond, angelica root and seed, coriander seed, juniper, lemon peels, licorice, orris root, and Seville orange peel. It is then distilled for about eight hours. The heads and tails of the distillate are separated, leaving only the high-quality portion called the heart. This is then sent to Scotland to be blended by Master Distiller Desmond Payne before bottling.

    Beefeater is bottled at 40 percent alcohol by volume (ABV, 80 proof). In the U.S. and some other global markets, it's 47 percent ABV (94 proof).

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    What Does Beefeater Taste Like?

    Beefeater London Dry Gin Martini

    Ford Media Lab

    As with most gin, juniper dominates the taste of Beefeater, though the long infusion creates a pleasant complexity. The aroma is a balance of spice and fruit, highlighted by juniper's pine. The palate is dry with an ideal herbal bouquet and it finishes with the signature dry aftertaste that defines London dry gin.

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    For the longest time, Beefeater was a one-bottle brand. Today, there are additional expressions in the portfolio and a few special editions that make an appearance on occasion. If you find something new from Beefeater, give it a try because the results are probably pretty good.

    Beefeater 24: This 90-proof gin was released in 2008 and is regularly available. Beefeater 24 is made just like the flagship gin but with grapefruit peel and Chinese green and Japanese sencha teas added. The 12-botanical recipe was created by Desmond Payne. The tea pays homage to the English love for the beverage as well as the founder's tea merchant father.

    The gin has a clean aroma with a bit of tannic citrus noticeable against the familiar base gin. The palate is more complex, showcasing increased citrus notes and a darker side contributed by the teas. These are balanced nicely against the juniper-forward taste. Its finish is characteristically dry and full of juniper with a touch of licorice.

    Beefeater Burrough's Reserve: The majority of gin is not aged, but it's not unheard of and Burrough's Reserve is Beefeater's take on barrel-aged gin. Produced in small batches using the founder's original Beefeater recipe and copper pot "Still No. 12," the gin is rested in wood casks after distillation. The aging time is measured in weeks rather than the years used for dark liquors like whiskey, and each batch uses a different type of wood.

    Edition 1 was released in 2013 and aged in former Jean de Lillet casks. In 2016, the red and white Bordeaux cask-aged Edition 2 was released. They're bottled at 86 proof and designed to be drunk alone rather than mixed. The success of these expressions makes it likely that there will be more to come.

    Beefeater London Pink Gin: In 2018, Beefeater released its first pink gin. It uses the Beefeater base and adds natural strawberry flavoring to give it an extra fruity layer and pale pink color. Bottled at 75 proof, it's a light, sweet gin. While it may not please traditional gin drinkers, this release follows a trend in pink gin, which was led by the Spanish market. It can appeal to drinkers who prefer vodka and softer drinks.

    Beefeater Summer Dry Gin: A limited release during the summer of 2010, this expression was the result of Payne's experiment with a softer gin. During its short life, it was a resounding success. The juniper was more subtle and blackcurrant, elderflower, and hibiscus flower were added to give it a wonderful summery bouquet of florals with a gentle sweetness. Bottled at 80 proof, it was a gin for those who don't enjoy juniper-heavy gins. If it is released again, pick up a bottle and enjoy summer in a glass.

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    How to Drink Beefeater

    Beefeater is best in cocktails. It makes a fabulous base for a martini and a great gin and tonic. You can pour it into any gin cocktail that specifically does not call for a genever, Old Tom, or Plymouth gin. That leaves you with a lot of drinks to explore and you can rest assured that a cocktail made with Beefeater will not disappoint. Its versatility is the truly great thing about this gin.

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    Cocktail Recipes

    Beefeater London Dry Gin Negroni Cocktail

    Ford Media Lab

    Any of the gins produced by Beefeater are perfect for mixing into any gin cocktail you like. Explore the many gin martinis and be sure to revisit the classics with this traditional London dry gin. With a brand this popular, there are, of course, a number of recipes that specifically call for Beefeater: