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Review

Beefeater
Burrough's Reserve Gin

Distillery

James Burrough Ltd (Chivas Brothers Ltd, & Pernod-Ricard Group), Montford Place Distillery, Kennington, London, England, UK.

Website

Beefeater Gin, Chivas Brothers and Pernod Ricard.

History

Beefeater Gin was first produced at the Chelsea Distillery (established 1820) in the late 1870’s by pharmacist and tea merchant James Burrough, it was originally known as Burrough’s Gin. The Burrough’s family sold the company to Whitbread in 1987; Whitbread sold the Beefeater brand to Allied Domeqq in 1991; and Allied Domeqq were purchased by Pernod Ricard in 2005. Whilst this brand of Gin is popular globally it is a particularly big seller in the USA - in the 1960’s it held 75% of the Gin market and today is the No.3 premium selling brand across North America. We believe it is fair to say that Pernod Ricard have put a lot of time, effort and money into re-marketing this brand and its offspring (e.g. Beefeater 24, Beefeater Summer etc.).

Beefeater was the first large brand name to commercially enter the cask aged category with this Gin. It was initially launched in Spain for early June 2013, followed by the UK in late June and then the US in October 2013.

Production

This initially starts off the same way as the standard Beefeater Gin, using maize and barley grain to create the base spirit. The same 9 botanicals are steeped for 24 hours, before slowly redistilling across about 7 - 8 hours for the final distillation. However, rather than using any of their usual stills this final distillation is carried out in “Still Number 12”. This small historic copper retort still with a capacity of only 268-liters (71 Gallons) is the original one used back in the 1860’s by founder James Burroughs. It had been lying dormant for at least the last few prior decades and creates a one shot Gin with a different character, compared to the normal multi-shot Beefeater Gin.

The resultant spirit is then rested in French Oak barrels for around 3 months. Uniquely – a world first - the barrels are from the aperitif producers Jean de Lillet (also owned by Pernod Ricard) who make Lillet Blanc This is the 1986 reformulated version of Kina Lillet, made famous by Ian Fleming’s character James Bond in Casino Royale with the Vesper cocktail. Rather than reusing the barrels previously employed to age their Lillet Blanc, Beefeater’s Master Distiller Desmond Payne uses their rare Jean de Lillet barrels, which are only available from exceptional vintage years. Each of these barrels can only be used to age the Gin a maximum of three times, before the contribution they make to the taste of the spirit is exhausted. It is for this reason, to keep each the taste of each batch reasonably consistent, several batches from the still are put into barrels used a different number of times, to make one complete blended batch of around 900-liters.

This yellow (pale gold) colored Gin (similar in color to Lillet Blanc itself) is presented in a clear circular bottle, with a flat base, embossed botanicals around the outside and a recessed center. A round white label is found in this recess, “Burrough’s Reserve” is clearly displayed in black colored text, with red and brown highlights, which is replicated on the labels circumference. Each label shows the batch and bottle number and includes the signatures of both Desmond Payne and James Burrough. The round label, bottle, wooden stopper and colors reflect the barrels used for aging the Gin and creates an overall image with similarities to a bottle of cognac. The look, design and name are the conceptual work of London based Coley Porter Bell Design Agency.

Category

Barrel Aged Gin.

Alcohol By Volume (ABV)

43% (86 Proof).

Price Range

$$$$$$ - $$$$$$$ (up to $120 in the UK!). Try online at: Hi-Time Wine Cellars, K&L Wines, Napa Cabs, The Liquor Barn and Wally’s Wine

Botanicals

Uses the same 9 botanicals as the standard Beefeater Gin: almonds (Spain), angelica root (Belgium), angelica seed, coriander seed (Bulgaria, Romania and Russia), juniper berries (Italy, Macedonia and Serbia), lemon peel (Sicily, Italy), liquorice, orange peel (Seville, Spain) and orris root.

Name

Named after the founder of Beefeater and originator of the recipe, James Burrough, and how the Gin is “Reserved” in barrels.

Tasting Notes

On the nose are dry spicy wood, citrus (orange and some lemon) and light piney juniper aromas with faint caramel and herbal floral notes (from the French Oak Lillet Barrels). On the palate this soft, smooth and lightly sweet spirit has woody spice, cinnamon, caramel and juniper with developing orange/lemon citrus plus sweet vanilla and light oak notes. On the close the developing notes start to fade with resurgent juniper and creamy warm spice coming to the fore creating a long, creamy and complex aromatic finish. A very nicely balanced quality Gin with complex subtle flavors.

This is a true sipping Gin and even Beefeater suggest it is best taken neat i.e. not in mixed drinks or cocktails. Beefeater further suggest trying this at room temperature, chilled from the fridge and straight from the freezer and recommend chilled (with no dilution) as the best choice. However, we respectfully disagree as we found it presented greater aroma and showed a more complex range of flavors at room temperature – we even like it with a slow cooling dilution from an ice cube!

Although not recommended by Beefeater for mixing, it does make a nice Martini with the herbal floral notes coming more to the fore due to the addition of Vermouth. We suggest it is stirred, not shaken, and served with a lemon or orange twist. In a Gin and Tonic it works, but only just, and it seems almost criminal to serve like this!

Overall this is an excellent well-made Gin and we applaud the skilful artistry of Desmond Payne and all the team at Beefeater. There are some complaints regarding the price being too expensive but we feel it is a case of “you get what you pay for” and this certainly is a quality Gin. However, consider the price for a good sipping Whisky or Brandy and it begins to seem right! Beefeater has brought aged Gin to the mainstream and many people may find this type of Gin hard to adjust to – as it takes them from the familiar to the unfamiliar – it is not for a Gin & Tonic aperitif but to be sipped after dinner like port. We’ll let the Master Distiller have the final word: “I expect Burrough’s Reserve to appeal to free thinking individuals who enjoy challenging convention and exploring new sensory experiences with gin.” - Desmond Payne.

Awards & Accolades

Master Medal, Gin Masters, 2015.

Silver Medal, International Wine and Spirits Competition, 2014.

Bronze Medal, International Spirits Challenge, 2014.

Master Medal, Gin Masters, 2014.

Gold Medal, International Wine and Spirits Competition, 2013.

Master Medal, Gin Masters, 2013.



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