Beefeater, the London-based gin distiller, seems to be back in the infusing game after decades of standing guard with its original gin. That the nearly 150-year-old distillery was purchased in 2005 by spirits and wine giant Pernod Ricard USA might have something to do with it.
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The newest release is a limited-edition summer gin that's dubbed, logically enough, the Summer Edition. Like last year's Beefeater 24 release, the Summer Edition is lighter on the gin flavor (juniper berries) than the original -- a trend that other distillers of full-flavored spirits seem to be doing of late. Adding subtle herbal notes from ingredients not typically found in the classic formula is also de rigueur in today's mega-distiller circles.
With Beefeater 24, the elusive new ingredient is green tea (both Chinese and Japanese Sencha). The Summer Edition touts elderflowers, black currants and hibiscus flowers as its unique drink factor, with just "a little kick of juniper to remind you that it is gin." Whether that's a good thing depends on whether you like gin precisely for its pine-y flavor. The Summer Edition tastes, not surprisingly, light and floral with a trace of that "this is definitely gin" flavor.
Do note that olives aren't exactly a merry match with elderflowers and hibiscus (we tried it just for fun so you don't have to). And so we suggest avoiding classic martinis with the Summer Edition. You could come up with a wildly creative cocktail with a fancy name, or go the easy route. Make a gin and tonic, add a twist of lemon and call it the lemon edition.
Beefeater's Summer Edition is available this summer only for about $27 at well-stocked liquor stores or by special order from specialty retailers.