Thursday 11 November 2010

Beefeater shows its winter coat

Beefeater Winter Edition

If the traditional gin style is like a sober suit and tie, then recent years have been like one long Dress-Down Friday, with new brands popping up that have the confidence to leave the house in whatever outlandish get-up they feel expresses their personal style. To extend this creaky fashion metaphor, Beefeater are now bringing seasonality into it as well—in the summer they produced a Summer Gin, flavoured with floral notes of elderflower, hibiscus and blackcurrant, and they have now unveiled their Winter Edition, enhanced with Christmas spices and complete with a label depicting a strangely timeless couple ice-skating on the frozen lake in front of their stately home. (Well, Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without that, would it?)

If you’re expecting a Brockmans-style flavour overhaul (i.e. something that doesn’t taste like gin) you’ll be disappointed. Tasted side by side with regulation Beefeater, this is still recognisably in the Beefeater house style, but with an additional mid-note warmth of orange and cinnamon. There’s nutmeg and pine in there too. You could argue that by extending the flavours in these fat, jazzy areas, taking emphasis away from the starched-collar juniper high-notes, they are actually acknowledging the direction of some of the modern gins while not abandoning their traditions. Like tentatively partnering your sober suit with an exotic tie someone gave you for Christmas. (OK, enough with the clothing metaphors.) I like it. Tasting it neat I think actually like it better than the normal all-seasons version.

Beefeater suggest a few mixed drinks to showcase their new formula, so I decide to give a couple of them a try.

Winter Kir Royal. That's not my
house you know.
Winter Kir Royal
25ml Beefeater Winter Gin
25ml sloe gin
100ml Champagne or sparkling wine
Pour the gins into a Champagne flute and top up with the fizz. I used cava and some Plymouth sloe gin that I had to hand. The recommended garnish is a blood orange twist. It’s a good idea, though dominated by the sloe gin; you know my feelings on Champagne based cocktails, and some experimentation showed that reducing the sloe gin to around 10–15ml gives a subtler, more complex and better balanced drink by allowing the wine to make its presence felt.

A burglar's-eye view of
the Hot Apple Gin
Hot Apple Gin
1 part Beefeater Winter Gin
3 parts warm apple juice
Pour gin into a toddy cup or mug, heat the apple juice in a pan and add to the gin. Garnish with a cinnamon stick and grating of nutmeg.
Just the thing to curl up with when you come in pink-cheeked from some crisp outdoor activity like hunting or clearing snow or stealing potatoes. Since I seldom leave the house except to slide into some urban watering hole, I felt a bit of a fraud, but it’s a nice combination. I used a phial of artisanal apple juice purchased at a farmer’s market at great expense, fresh and foodlike on its own, but added hot to the gin it produced a rich drink that really brought out the spiciness of Beefeater Winter even without the added cinnamon stick.

Beefeater Winter Edition is packaged in a matching box and they’re obviously hoping we’ll be buying bottles of it to stick under the Christmas tree for each other. It  will be available for a limited period this winter from Selfridges, Harvey Nicks, Fortnums and Harrods for about £18 a bottle.

1 comment: