Though the cold of the past week was wintery enough, it’s today 1st December that the season officially starts. Along with advent calendars and thoughts of Christmas comes a new product out of London, Beefeater Winter Gin, which will be available from now until the end of the cold season.
With the addition of cinnamon, nutmeg, pine kernels and extra Seville orange peel to the original Beefeater recipe, the gin is made for warming body and soul during winter drinking, and it certainly does hit the spot. Admittedly, it might be a bit of a marketing ploy, but what makes this new release interesting is that Beefeater is today the only international brand of gin to still be made in London. This is despite the fact that almost every premium gin brand worldwide will classify itself as a London Dry Gin.
The fact is, such a qualification has nothing whatsoever to do with where the gin is made, but rather how. A London Dry Gin is simply one which has all the botanicals added during the distillation process. No flavourings, colours or sugar may be used, and the only thing that can be added after distillation is water. As such, the term London Dry Gin has become a mark of quality.
The only two premium gin brands which don’t pertain to be London Dry Gins are Plymouth, who are the only gin to have their own protected origin status, and Hendricks who add cucumber and rose after distillation but are also too proud of their Scottish heritage to want such a title.
New kids on the block Sipsmith and Park Place drinks' SW4 gin are flying the flag for London with small distilleries set up in Hammersmith and Clapham respectively, but the Beefeater distillery in Kennington is still London’s most significant production point. The distillery has been based in Lambeth since 1820 and now creates over 20 million litres annually from the premises.
The fact that Beefeater is now owned by French company Pernod Ricard is perhaps better left unmentioned...
The new limited edition Winter Gin is available in London for about £17 from Selfridges, Harvey Nichols, Fortnum & Mason and Harrods.