Beefeater hosted a tasting of its new Burrough’s Reserve Gin Wednesday as part of Portland Cocktail Week (PDXCW) and the Gin’s American launch. Master Distiller Desmond Payne was present at The Rookery at Raven & Rose in Portland to present his new Gin and to talk about its development. The new, hand-crafted, ultra-Premium Gin is named in honor of Beefeater founder James Burrough and begins by using Burrough’s original 1860s recipe and an original copper pot “Still Number 12” that has a capacity of only 268 liters (about 70 gallons).
Mr. Payne has been making Gin for 46 years and, as designer of Beefeater 24, definitely knows his business. He believes that Gin is coming back in fashion, and wanted to create a Gin that would appeal to specialists. Beefeater still uses the original recipe from 1860s, but in more industrial size batches. One of Payne’s first discoveries was that when he made the much smaller batches in the original pot still, it changed the character of the Gin. He reported that the first time he tried putting it in wood, he didn’t really like the result, but experimentation and perseverance bore fruit when he tried used French oak Jean de Lillet (an aperitif) barrels.
The barrels add a new dimension to the Gin, but they may only be used twice before their taste contribution is exhausted. Even then, the second fill doesn’t taste quite like the first, so barrels from the two fills are blended to achieve the final result: an excellent, ultra-premium sipping Gin. Special, two-part glasses were designed for tastings to show off the different characteristics of Burrough’s Reserve (see photo). Payne states that the Gin is best when stored in the freezer and sipped undiluted. We were given two portions of Gin: one in the top saucer-like glass and the other in the lower columnar glass. The top glass brings out more fruitiness and some of the wood, while the bottom glass brings out even more wood and emphasizes the contribution of some of the botanicals. The bottom glass delivered my favorite sensory combination, and I soon poured my top glass into the bottom to enjoy more of my favorite flavor.
Burrough’s Reserve is intended to be sipped, and goes well with dried fruit and cheese. It is pale gold in color, it is rested in wood, but not aged like a Whiskey. Cocktail recipes are available, but I recommend enjoying this one as intended. It is expected to retail for around $70 a bottle in the US, but the small batch size (each bottle bears the number of the batch and the number of the bottle) means it may be hard to find.