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Review:

Booth's Gin

Distillery

Booth’s Distillers Ltd. (Diageo, Plainfield, Illinois, USA), London, England, UK.

Website

Diageo.

History

Booths were originally wine merchants from around 1569, based in the North East of England. Philip Booth first established their distilling operations in 1740, in London. By the 1800’s the company had numerous distilleries (including farms and a brewery) and was the largest Gin distiller in the UK.

This Gin was originally known as “House of Lords” and was first produced in 1790, by the Philip Booth’s 3rd and youngest son, Sir Felix Booth (1755 – 1850). Felix Booth served as Sheriff of London & Middlesex and was also a keen philanthropist. His best-known endeavor was funding over 80% of Captain John Ross’s second expedition to find the North West passage during 1829 to 1833 - while ultimately unsuccessful, he did successfully locate the Magnetic North Pole. As a direct result of this financial input, parts of Canada are named in relation to Booth: Boothia Isthmus; Boothia Peninsula; Cape Felix; Gulf of Boothia; Port Felix (Nova Scotia); and Sheriff Harbor (Nunavut).

Following this expeditions success, King William IV granted the Gin a royal warrant in 1833. This was used to great marketing success, Booth’s using the motto “King of Gin” and the (Royal) Red Lion as an icon, and in 1859 Felix Booth opened up the Red Lion Brewery and Distillery in London. On top of the distillery was an 1837 sculptured, red painted lion made of Coade stone (incredibly durable cement like building material, invented by Eleanor Coade). The Red Lion distillery (along with a waterworks building) was finally demolished in 1949 to make way for the Royal Festival Hall, which now dominates the Lambeth South bank of the River Thames. The lion was relocated at street level and guarded the gates to Waterloo train station until 1966 when it was moved again and today can be found on the south end of Westminster Bridge. The red paint was removed to better display the Coade stone, which still looks like new nearly 200-years later. A similar but smaller lion from the distillery can be found at Gate No.3 at Twickenham Rugby Ground.

The last male heir of the Booth Gin Empire died in 1926 and the business eventually joined the Distillers Company Ltd. (DCL) in 1937. In 1986 Guinness bought DCL, creating United Distillers (UD) a year later. In 1997 UD merged with Grand Metropolitan to create Diageo. Diageo sell in over 180 countries and truly are worldwide. Production of Booth’s Gin in the UK was stopped in 2006 and is now made in Plainfield, Illinois, USA, under contract for Booth's Distilleries of London.

Booth’s Gin is reputed to have been a favorite drink of Queen Elizabeth II, and carried her royal warrant for some time. It is also said to have been a keen favorite of writer Kingsley Amis, who liked a Pink Gin.

Production

Distilled from grain and pot distilled, actual production techniques are unknown. The Gin is presented in a blue plastic bottle with a white label and blue writing. One or more red lion(s) may be found on the label of this Gin; this follows the royal warrant granted in 1833 and the creation of the Red Lion Distillery in 1859 (see History above).

Category

London Dry Gin.

Alcohol By Volume (ABV)

45% (90 Proof).

Price Range

$ - $$. Available online, try: MegaBevLueken’s Liquors, Laurenti Wines, Elephant Wine or Wine Chateau.

Botanicals

Unknown.

Name

Named after the founding family, Booth.

Tasting Notes

On the nose is juniper and some spice notes. On the palate this medium bodied spirit displays all the signs of a classic London Dry with juniper, citrus (lemon), herbs and spices. The finish is warming with dry tannin juniper, citrus (lemon peel) and spice (coriander).

While we cannot comment on this Gin’s taste prior to 2006, it is a low priced entry Gin. It is not as smooth or as flavorsome as many higher priced Gins so, is not one for sipping nor (in our opinion) is it one best used in a Martini. However, do not take these comments too negatively, this Gin is on a par with others such as Beefeater, Gordon’s, Seagrams etc. It certainly makes a good everyday Gin & Tonic and other long Gin based drinks e.g. Gin Fizz, Tom Collins etc. and at this price it is extraordinary!

Up until the 1970’s it seems Booth’s produced two other Gin variations (at a lower proof): “High & Dry” (and in some places this title is incorrectly used to describe the standard Booth’s Gin available today); and Booth’s “Finest” which had a pale yellow color to it. Unfortunately we haven’t been able to taste either of these.

Awards & Accolades

88 Points, Wine Enthusiast.

Music

While sipping this Gin in your favorite drink why not listen to Stan Roger's "Northwest Passage", we've chosen this version by The Fugitives:

Read


Make yourself a drink with this Gin and have a great read on the history of the Northwest Passage, "Across The Top of The World" by James Delgado. The hundreds of attempts to find a safe northern route from Europe to Asia are brought to life in this informative but very readable book.

Read or Watch

Be entertained while drinking a cocktail or two made with Booth's Gin. The book is an enjoyable piece of historical fiction about Major Rogers seeking a Northwest passage. Written by Kenneth Roberts it was made into a film starring Spencer Tracy.



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