Beefeater Tasting Notes

Beefeater 24

The Chelsea Distillery is a name that many of you have probably never heard of, but back in the 1820’s, it was big business, and started one of the world’s most famous gin brands – Beefeater.

I’m surprised I’ve never covered Beefeater fully before, and with a presence in most bars, it makes perfect sense to start 2014 off with a look into nearly 200 years of history.

The Chelsea Distillery, located on Cale Street, London, opens under the control of the Taylor family in 1820, but it wouldn’t be until 1862 when the trained pharmacist and tea merchant James Burrough bought the distillery from John Taylor for the sum of £400. The distillery was renowned for its production of liqueurs, and James carried this on to further establish its reputation and customer base (which included Fortnum and Mason). With this, a year later in 1863 saw James Burrough create some of his own distinctive styles of gin.

By 1876, the company stock lists showed an increasing portfolio of gins with brand names such as Ye Old Chelsea and James Burrough London Dry, as well as Old Tom styles. By spending time experimenting, inventing and using new processes, he discovered that blending a particular recipe of botanicals produced a bold, full-flavoured gin, which he ultimately named Beefeater Gin, named after the Yeoman Warders of the Tower of London, also known as ‘Beefeaters’, who have guarded the historic landmark for more than 500 years.
After the almost instant success of the gin, it was soon made the James Burrough Company’s flagship product.

The original Beefeater recipe book dated 1895, specified that nine botanicals are essential (juniper, angelica root, angelica seeds, coriander seeds, liquorice, almonds, orris root, Seville oranges and lemon peel), and used his unique method of steeping the blend of botanicals in the grain alcohol for 24 hours prior to distillation.

In 1908, Beefeater production moved to Hutton Road in Lambeth. The distillery is named after its forerunner, Cale Street to retain its heritage, while production is increased due to the purchase of the latest distilling equipment and demand for the brand. With production increasing even further, Beefeater moved to its present home in Kennington back in 1958 and enlisted English still manufacture John Dore to create a new larger set of copper stills mimicking those of the former Chelsea Distillery.

Five years later, Beefeater accounted for three out of every four bottles of gin imported into the USA and became the only gin on board the maiden voyage of the QE11 to New York. Beefeater remained in the Burrough’s family control until 1987 when it was sold to Whitbread. Another part of the family tree of James Burrough, Christopher Hayman (James was his great-grandfather) joined James Burrough Limited in 1969 and was responsible for the distillation and production of Beefeater until its sale. He retained part of the business and now carries on with Hayman Distillers.

The appointment of current Master Distiller Desmond Payne happened back in 1995 to replace Brian Martin, and 10 years later in 2005, Pernod Ricard acquired Beefeater Gin which resulted in a massive programme of reinvestment to the brand. Today, it is said to be the only globally recognized gin to still be made in London.

2009 saw Desmond Payne, the world’s most experienced gin distiller, create a new expression from Beefeater, the now award-winning super-premium gin Beefeater 24. Desmond stumbled upon a fragment of an old price-list from James Burrough and saw listed products from his days as a tea merchant. With this inspiration, Mr. Payne decided to steep together ten botanicals (grapefruit peel, Seville orange peel, lemon peel, juniper, coriander seed, liquorice, angelica root, angelica seed, almond and orris root) with rare Japanese Sencha tea and aromatic Chinese Green tea for 24 hours. The spirit is then distilled in traditional pot stills for 7 hours.

So, with a stellar history, how do they fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –

Beefeater London Dry – 40%

A light citrus creates a soft hit on the nose, with juniper following slowly after with a very light hint of spice. A long aftertaste after a more dominant hit of lemon citrus on the palate.

Beefeater 24 – 45%

Soft on the nose with plenty of grapefruit coming through. Incredibly soft on the palate, with small bursts of liquorice, grapefruit, orange and the heat from coriander. Creates a long, lingering finish with a little tingle to remind you.

Both stunning on their own, but equally you could ask your bartender for one of these –

Blushing Tease
Blushing Tease

Blushing Tease

Glass –

Punch Bowl and Cups

Ingredients –

60 ml Beefeater London Dry
30 ml Lemon juice (fresh)
30 ml Sugar syrup
15 ml Lemon sherbet
120 ml Green tea
8 Fresh raspberries
Dash orange bitters
Dash Maraschino liqueur

Method – 

Put all the ingredients in a shaker and muddle gently. Then shake with rock ice and pour over ice in a glass. Garnish with a sprig of mint, fresh raspberries and a wedge of lemon.
These quantities serve 2 but can be easily increased for larger groups.


24 Fruit Tea Cup
24 Fruit Tea Cup

24 Fruit Tea Cup

Glass – 

Large Wine Glass

Ingredients –

60 ml Beefeater 24
20 ml Lillet Blanc
15 ml Lemon juice
75 ml Earl Grey tea (chilled and sweetened)

Method – 

Build all ingredients over ice in the glass and garnish with seasonal fruit and a mint sprig.

There’s also another new expression, which was released in 2013, named Beefeater Burrough’s Reserve where they age there specially distilled small batch spirit in casks previously used for Jean de Lillet. A great portfolio, and one that although you may see a lot of in bars, there’s a simple reason why – they’re actually pretty good. One for your cabinet at home for sure.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


Haymans new

Hayman’s. A name etched into the history of gin, but perhaps not your normal ‘go-to’ gin brand when hunting on the shelves of your local supermarket. Hayman’s is seen more as the silent assassin. They don’t shout, but ask any bartender and they will love at least one of the expressions that Hayman’s create, and be happy to pour you a glass.

But why should you deviate away from your past brands of choice?

Well Hayman’s has a rather simple history, and can have its name etched amongst one of the worlds most well-know gin brands – Beefeater. The original company of Hayman Distillers was founded in 1863 by a gentleman named James Burrough, the great Grandfather of the current Chairman, Christopher Hayman. It was Mr Burrough who created the world-renowned Beefeater gin, as well as a range of other gin and cordials such as Ye Olde Chelsey gin, after purchasing the gin rectifying company John Taylor and Sons.

After expanding their name into the US in the early 1900’s, World War 2 hit and Hayman’s gin, like everyone else, were hit hard. Step forward Neville Hayman, an accountant by profession, who joined the board to represent his wife Marjorie, James Burrough’s granddaughter. He helped re-structure the business to ensure it can survive the aftermath of World War 2, and saw the reduction in some of the styles that were making Hayman’s gin famous, including Old Tom Gin and Sloe Gin. 1969 saw James Burrough’s great-grandson Christopher Hayman join the company, who is still at the help today, and appointed Operations Director and responsible for the Distillation and Production of Beefeater gin in 1977.

James Burrough PLC was to Whitbread in 1987, but Christopher Hayman retained the archive of recipes which were used as a spring board to create the new Hayman’s products and continue to distill and blend traditionally both gin and other white spirits. Between 1988 and 1999, Christopher Hayman purchased back James Burrough FAD (Fine Alcohols Division) and renamed it Hayman Distillers, who then became part of a consortium who bought Thames Distillers in Clapham – 1 of 2 Gin distilleries in London at the time.

Entering the new century, James Hayman, Christopher’s son, joined the team in 2004, with Hayman’s 1820 Gin Liqueur also making an appearance on the shelves. A year later, Miranda Hayman, Christopher’s daughter, also joins the team. The Old Tom made a comeback after nearly 60 years of absence, and the brand became exported to over 40 countries, and in 2013, came complete with new packaging and housed spirit from their new dedicated still ‘Marjorie’

So with a rather historical background, what do Hayman’s gin offer to their customers? Well below, I give to you some background information on each, as well as my tasting notes.

Hayman’s Royal Dock

Hayman’s London Dry – 40%

A combination of 10 botanicals, including angelica roots from France and liquorice, create Hayman’s London Dry Gin, with the traditional London Dry style being carefully balanced with juniper, coriander, orange and lemon peel, orris root, cinnamon, cassia bark and nutmeg. After 24 hours of being steeped, it is then distilled in the traditional pot still ‘Marjorie’.
Fresh citrus lemon on the nose with a delicate mix of juniper flowing through. A clean flavour on the palate, with a slight tang on entry, however it smooths itself out into a slight dryness.

Hayman’s Old Tom – 40%

A botanically intensive gin from a recipe in the 1870’s, that delivers a more rounded experience than other styles of gin, this was the ‘Gin of Choice’ back in the 19th Century, with its popularity stretching back to the 18th Century.
On the nose, a subtle lavender aroma mixes well with a sweetened fruity nose. A clean smell of ginger, juniper and coriander follow through onto the palate with orange joining the mix. Very drinkable with a slight dryness on the aftertaste.

Hayman’s 1820 Gin Liqueur – 40%

The worlds first gin liqueur distilled to a specific gin recipe in a traditional pot still and then blended into a liqueur.
A smooth, clean and refreshing citrus aroma on the nose with a small hint of herbal essence. The sweetness on the palate brings out flavours of orange.

Hayman’s Sloe – 26%

A traditional English Liqueur made to a long-standing family recipe previously only available for private use. Wild English grown sloe berries are gently steeped for several months with Hayman’s Gin before being blended with natural sugar.
Very fresh and light on the nose with a good dose of sloe berry aroma. Rather light and refreshing on the palate with a bold beginning. Mellows out rather quickly, with cinnamon and citrus the noticeable flavours.

Hayman’s 1850 Reserve – 40%

Distilled to a recipe from the 1850’s, which is then cask rested for 3 to 4 weeks following the tradition of Gin Palace style Gin.
Lots of dry pepper on the nose but becomes smooth with a hint of spice. The smoothness continues onto the palate with a slight creamy offering that comes alive with spice. Very long after-taste.

Hayman’s Royal Dock – 57%

Represents the style of gin supplied by the Hayman family and previous generations under the mark “Senior Service Gin” to both the Royal Navy and the trade from 1863.
Very sharp nose with a slight citrus aroma leaving its mark. Smooth beginning on the palate, with a slight kick but mellow soon after. Rather long and clean that comes with a slight burn at the end, but still mouth-watering.

Hayman’s Family Reserve – 41.3%

Limited edition with each batch only producing 5000 bottles. The Family Reserve reflects the style sold in the ornate ‘Gin Palaces’ in London and other English cities in the 1800’s. It is rested in Scotch whisky barrels for three weeks in keeping with the tradition that gin was sold from the cask rather than the bottle, which was commonplace in England until the 1860’s.
Clean on the nose with delicate and subtle cracked pepper, oak and coriander aromas. Plenty of soft oak on the palate, with the sharp kicks of spice, coriander, fresh pepper and juniper combining well on the long, lively finish.

A fantastic range from England’s longest-serving gin distilling family, but what if you wanted to ask your bartender for a good cocktail?

Gin and Tonic
Gin and Tonic

Hayman’s Gin and Tonic


Highball / Rocks


50 ml Hayman’s London Dry
Tonic Water
Slice of lime


Pour into a glass filled with ice and stir. Garnish with a slice of lime.

or perhaps,

Tom Collins
Tom Collins

Tom Collins




50 ml Hayman’s Old Tom Gin
25 ml Fresh lemon juice
Top with soda


Pour into a glass filled with ice and stir. Garnish with a wedge of lemon.

or perhaps,

The Blackthorn
The Blackthorn

The Blackthorn

Glass – 


Ingredients – 

50 ml Hayman’s Sloe Gin
5 ml Sweet Italian Vermouth
Dash Orange Bitters

Method – 

Stir ingredients together in a mixing glass over cubed ice until chilled. Strain and serve into a pre-chilled martini or wine goblet and garnish with orange zest or a twist.

or perhaps,



Glass – 


Ingredients – 

25 ml Hayman’s Family Reserve Gin
25 ml Campari
25 ml Rosso Vermouth

Method – 

Build in a tumbler glass over ice. Garnish with a curl of orange peel or slice.

Some expressions to get your teeth stuck into, and the new Family Reserve offers a great alternative to the classic gin cocktails such as the Negroni (above) and Martini. Grab a couple for a gin evening to impress your friends with, and to make your drinks cabinet look good.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.