Lauded by VinePair as the quintessential London dry, Beefeater London Dry Gin has roots dating to the late 1800s, when its founder James Burrough purchased the Chelsea Distillery in 1863. Later, the Beefeater label became known for its world-class gin, which has been made using the same recipe since 1876.
In 2005, spirits conglomerate Pernod Ricard acquired Beefeater (from then-owner Whitbread), solidifying Beefeater as one of the top gin brands in the world. It has since reinvented itself, targeting a new generation of drinkers by redesigning its bottle packaging, focusing on sustainability efforts, and offering flavored and lower-alcohol products to keep up with market trends.
Here are eight more things you should know about Beefeater.
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Beefeater is the original London Dry.
It’s no secret that Beefeater is London’s best gin. Beefeater’s name origin refers to the Yeomen of the Guard, bodyguards of the British monarchy. To craft its signature London dry gin, Beefeater uses its original recipe of nine botanicals: juniper, angelica root, angelica seeds, coriander seeds, licorice, almonds, orris root, Seville oranges, and lemon peel.
Beefeater loves flavors, too.
Beefeater showcases an extensive lineup, notably introducing flavored gins in 2018: Beefeater Pink Gin uses the original dry gin recipe plus natural strawberry flavoring; and Beefeater Blood Orange Gin is made using Seville orange peel (and blood orange flavor). Although the oranges for this expression were picked in Spain, the label can be considered an homage to one of founder James Burrough’s early recipes for an orange gin, which he made with a selection of oranges from London’s Covent Garden Market in 1876.
Both flavored gins were a hit.
Beefeater 24 steeps with green tea, then sleeps with Bordeaux.
Along with its fruit-flavored expressions that are likely destined for spritzes, additional bottlings include Beefeater 24, marketed as Beefeater’s superior dry gin. The 24 refers to the 24 hours of steeping the (12) botanicals, which include Chinese and Japanese teas.
Beefeater’s Burrough’s Reserve is a limited-edition, oak-rested gin that is distilled using James Burrough’s original copper “Still Number 12.” The most recent release is rested in red and white Bordeaux wine barrels.
Beefeater really loves botanicals.
In case you haven’t noticed, every Beefeater gin uses a select number of botanicals. The select London dry gin uses nine botanicals. Beefeater’s flavored gin, such as 24, uses 12 botanicals. Further, the blood orange and pink gin use 10 botanicals. But numbers aside, where this distillery’s love for flora is is its botanical room, where its ingredients are stored. I know, so obvious.
Beefeater is saving bottles with bottles.
In January 2021, Beefeater announced that the brand will embrace sustainable efforts, starting with packaging. Featuring a new bottle design, the bottle is made entirely from recycled glass. The new design replaces the existing plastic bottle cap with an aluminum cap. Thus, the label for the cap has been switched from PVC to paper.
Beefeater’s sustainable efforts saved 410 tons of plastic within the first months of release, a number equivalent to that of 17 million plastic water bottles.
Beefeater is betting high on low alcohol.
Let’s talk alcohol: The gins produced by Beefeater vary in alcohol content. So much so that some consumers were disappointed in a recent decision to decrease the ABV. Beefeater used to bottle its gin at 94 proof in the U.S. Now, its bottled gin is sold at 88 proof.
In 2021, Beefeater announced the debut of its first lower-ABV gin, clocking in at 27.5 percent ABV. Beefeater’s Botanics Lemon and Ginger is a flavored gin that contains no added sugars or artificial sweeteners. Yet the gin is distilled using the same dry gin recipe alongside those nine botanicals.
It’s one of bartenders’ go-to gins for mixing cocktails.
With distilleries now demonstrating a wide range of creative expressions of gin, bartenders are uber-excited about using this spirit in their drinks. So much so, that when we asked drinks professionals around the U.S. for their best recommendations for gins, Beefeater came up — a lot.
Why do they adore this spirit? “Beefeater is my go-to for cocktails,” Brandi Carter, beverage director of Elvie’s in Jackson, Miss., said. NYC head bartender Drew Johnson told VinePair: “Beefeater is also much more affordable than other gins in the same category and is crazy versatile. Its botanicals are robust enough to stand up next to the lemon and honey in a Bees Knees, and is delicate enough to sip in a classic Martini.”
(But whatever you do, don’t use it in a Tom Collins.)
Finally! Time for a free* gin and tonic.
Recently, after 150 years, the famous distillery opened its doors to the public, inviting visitors to take a tour to learn about the history, distilling process, and take a glimpse at the original stills. By booking a tour online or using a London pass, tourists can indulge in an interactive experience at the distillery.
The tour includes an exclusive full in-depth discussion on how Beefeater gin is made, plus a complimentary Gin and Tonic. (*The tour costs £16, or about $23.) According to Vauxhall London, this is one of South London’s best kept secrets.