By Michael W. Harris
Type: London Dry
Botanicals: 12 botanicals, including grapefruit peel and Japanese and Chinese teas
Base: Grant Neutral Spirit
Distilling Notes: Botanicals infused for twenty-four hours, head distiller than selects their “perfect cut” of the result.
Beefeater 24 is, in many ways (though not in taste), similar to Tanqueray 10 or Bombay Sapphire. It is the more “upscale” version of their basic gin; the original with a twist. In this case, the twist is the mixture of botanicals, including some Japanese and Chinese teas, which are then infused for twenty-four hours, the result of which the master distiller than selects what they believe is the best “cut.”
It is an interesting gin, to say the least, but is it worth the price premium? That is the real question. The original Beefeater is such a stellar mid-range gin it begs the question of if it is worth paying almost double for Beefeater 24. I hope to give you some guidance on that by the end of this review.
As part of my research for the upcoming Annihilation review, I watched Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now (10/27)—the reasons for this will become clear when you read my review. It was during the USO show scene with the Playboy Bunnies that I poured myself a measure of straight Beefeater 24 and was intrigued. It was different. Not too boozy, not too fruity or earthy. The tea flavors are definitely present, but not overwhelming. Rounded would be a good word to describe the gin.
On the palate it has a bit more bite, but the rounded flavor profile remains. The citrus and teas are in balance and nothing really leaps out as being dominant. However, on the finish is where the alcohol can jump up and kick you, especially if you take a bigger sip. But to a more measured drinker, it is quite pleasant and a worthy update to a classic gin.
Unfortunately, things to do stay that way.
Gin and Tonic
As I continue to watch Robotech (10/29), I find myself getting more invested in the story. It is strange that what I went into believing was a simple children’s cartoon has turned into a serious, though still quite campy at times, show that I am finding myself actually invested in! As for the Beefeater 24, that rounded and balanced flavor profile seems to have a detrimental effect on it as a cocktail mixer. At first, I thought that the lack of any real punch in my gin and tonic was because the tonic bottle I had was almost empty or that the limes were getting a bit dry in the fridge.
However, I repeated in the gin and tonic tasting twice more, controlling for those two variables and had the same experience. The Beefeater 24 and tonic just tastes flat. It has almost no bite or real taste to it. It is uninteresting, bland. Lacking in character.
Truly, everything that makes drinking the gin straight such a pleasant experience works against it when mixed with tonic. Given that, I had no idea what to expect from the pink gin.
A while back I picked up Wong Kar-wai’s In the Mood for Love during a Criterion sale and I finally decided to cue it up as I tried out the Beefeater 24 pink (11/1). My first note is, “Woah, this is not too bad.” The taste has vague hints of something medicinal (in a good way, like cough syrup) and the smell is akin to candy or licorice.
The finish has burn to spare, the bitters amping up the taste as is usual, but it is still not too bad to sip in measured quantities. Yet, as nice as it is, it is still does not make me love the pink gin any more than my already lukewarm opinion.
I went into Beefeater 24 with high hopes, and both the straight and pink gin were pretty good. However, at the end of the day, for me a gin is lives or dies by how it performs in a gin and tonic. By this measure Beefeater 24 falls down. Flat.
Which is basically my answer to if it is worth the price premium. While not terribly expensive when compared to some gins, its price still puts it on par with Tanqueray 10 or Bombay Sapphire, or even Hendrick’s (depending on where you live/shop), and against that competition it does not warrant the purchase. It is solidly Middle Shelf in my opinion, and if you want Beefeater, then save the money and go with the classic.