Friday Tastings: Beefeater Winter Edition Gin

In the past year, veteran Master Distiller Desmond Payne has done a lot to recharge Beefeater’s image as a sort of sexless grandpa gin (inaccurate, but there you go). He created Beefeater 24, adding exotic Japanese and Chinese teas to the classic recipe, and the limited-edition, floral Summer Gin. And now (perhaps inevitably) he gives us another limited run, Winter Gin. That’s more variation on James Burrough’s London Dry Gin in a few months than we’ve had since the chap opened shop in 1820. Proving wrong an old adage: Apparently you can, on occasion, mess with success. Winter Gin brings some unusual (but tasty) botanicals to the party: cinnamon, nutmeg, pine, and an extra helping of Selville oranges. It’s remarkably silky, even sipped neat. Gin’s all-important juniper note is hushed significantly by that harmonious chorus of holiday spice. Hard to pick them out individually—the cinnamon comes through loudest—but the overall effect is toothsome and pleasant. Good storm-watching gin. Can this sort of thing get gimmicky? Absolutely. Will Beefeater know when to quit? Probably not. But if future seasonal editions are priced as reasonably as this one, we’ll pay $18.99 to see exactly when innovation becomes hackneyed ploy (we’re guessing Beefeater Season of the Witch).

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