BEEFEATER 24—Because the market can bear more gin

My Fellow Inebriates,

Don’t tell Julia Gale, but I’m cheating on her with another gin.

I couldn’t help it. I’ve been waiting and waiting for BROKER’S GIN to make an appearance at my local government booze shop, but the last time I checked, it wasn’t there, and…well…the sun was shining, which means G&T time. The stars were lining up: we even had limes and tonic water ready in the fridge.

It wasn’t intentional. My dad had bought the tonic for his sore stomach and my mum had earmarked the limes for some sort of peanut-lime chicken abomination. They had no plans to buy gin, but…well, the stars lined up.

Faced with a paralyzing selection of beer and an even more overwhelming array of wine, my mum hit the gin aisle, where she would have to cope with only 14 brands.

Those 14 brands divide into 34 gin variations, however, posing less confusion than the wine and beer sections, but certainly enough for my addlepated mother. Whereas weirdo gin producers such as Hendrick’s sport only one style and size, brands such as TANQUERAY and BEEFEATER not only come in multiple sizes; they also boast premium versions that cost an arm and a leg. Tanqueray 10 is particularly pricey ($42.99 per 750mL versus $24.99 for the original). And if gin goes the way of vodka, the liquor store will have to build a new shelf for a host of new dipshit flavors.

What’s the history behind this? I suspect it goes like this: Charles Tanqueray creates a perfect London gin in 1830, predating Beefeater but not Plymouth and besting both, and these “establishment” brands then elbow out all the cheap gin joints in England, alleviating the social problems you’d expect from turpentine-flavored moonshine. But the market is quickly crowded by other gin manufacturers offering both mainstream gin flavorings and bizarre variants such as cucumber essence, and next thing you know my easily puzzled parent is staring at a massive selection and wondering if early Alzheimer’s is kicking in.

The marketing intelligence goes like this. The main decent contenders with any history are Tanqueray and Beefeater. Put Tanqueray on the shelf beside Beefeater and you’ve got a shoot-out. With Tanqueray costing only a dollar more than Beefeater, the choice comes down to how subtle you like your gin—flirting at you with juniper or belting you with it. If you haven’t tried either product, the odds are probably 50/50 you’ll pick either one.

Now put Tanq 10 beside Tanqueray and Beefeater. Sixty percent higher in price, this exorbitant sibling tastes cleaner, lighter, and arguably more refined. If anything it argues for diminishing returns—how good does gin really get, and do you have to refine the character right out of it to hit this price point?

But it doesn’t matter how Tanq 10 tastes. Its very presence on the shelf has accomplished a marketing coup—it’s redirected the dilemma. Instead of considering the merits of two almost equally priced gins, the consumer now sees the choice as between Tanqueray and Tanqueray 10, with Beefeater characterizing the bottom shelf—whether or not it deserves to be relegated to that position. Whereas ordinary Tanqueray, at $1 above Beefeater, didn’t seem like a deal before, now it seems like a steal. Now you can get a steal without being cheap.

Even though Tanqueray figured this out first, Beefeater eventually got into the game with BEEFEATER 24. Launched in 2008, this tea-infused variant, which would probably make founder James Burrough roll over in his grave, dials back the juniper in favor of a more balanced, 12-botanical recipe intended to channel the sensibilities of Burrough’s tea-merchant father. At $6 more than original BEEFEATER for 750mL, BEEFEATER 24 is invoking the same strategy as Tanqueray—creating choice within the brand, thereby satisfying the shopper’s urge to experiment without deserting the brand. Without cheating, that is.

Ahhhh, I never told Julia I wouldn’t cheat, but by now you must realize I’ve gone and made a gin & tonic with BEEFEATER 24. But what’s done is done, so let’s talk taste.

Like Tanq 10, BEEFEATER 24 is a cleaner version of the original, lacking the characteristic juniper burst of its big sibling and infused with specialty teas and grapefruit peel. The scent is heady and inviting—definitely flirtier than the original and admittedly more sophisticated. The tea infusion contributes a noticeable parching tannic quality, slightly distracting in a gin & tonic, especially if it’s a GIN & tonic like mine. As I sip it, I can’t help thinking fondly of the classic juniper clouting you get with the original, and I almost feel robbed of $6.

Which isn’t to say BEEFEATER 24 is bad. Not at all! It’s quite wonderful. It’s just a departure from Beefeater. I bet the founder, who was pretty worked up about achieving the perfect recipe, probably wouldn’t appreciate it. Chances are Beefeater headquarters are experiencing all sorts of bumps in the night from an angry James Burrough lurching around half-cut on celestial Beefeater and knocking people’s teacups off counters. Still better than having a possessed bear in your house, but not by much.

But once again it doesn’t matter what BEEFEATER 24 actually tastes like. It’s made an intelligent marketing maneuver that will keep customers loyal to its brand and probably grab some market share from competitors.

If only Beefeater HQ would learn how to make web pages that don’t take 45 seconds* to load.

*no exaggeration


My Fellow Inebriates,

I need to score some BROKER’S GIN. I just realized my local liquor store no longer carries it—OMG!! I took it for granted; I thought it would always be there. Even when I wasn’t thinking about it, somewhere inside I had the comforting notion that it would be there when I decided it was gin-and-tonic time.

Yes, I did rhapsodize the other day about BEEFEATER, an awesome gin and the definitive choice for juniper fans. I love BEEFEATER, my peeps, but there’s a time and a place for it. BEEFEATER is for lurching around with older relatives at weddings and wakes. It’s great for sipping in a martini while you listen to loud, loud music. It’s fantastic at an airport when it could be 7:00 a.m. or 2:00 p.m. for all you know because you lost your watch in the toilet. I totally love the stuff.

But I have to tell you about BROKER’S. Compared to BEEFEATER, it is a cheeky upstart—but an upstart with a mission to create an unapologetically old-fashioned gin bespeaking London and its heritage. Using quadruple distillation, the fourth pass going through a copper pot still, brothers Andy and Martin Dawson combined their solid business acumen, their creativity, and some funny hats in 1998, to create a memorably dry, full-bodied gin.

SO WHY THE HELL CAN’T I FIND IT IN MY LIQUOR STORE ANY MORE? Seriously, I want to ask Andy and Martin what’s going on…why BROKER’S was in my liquor store and isn’t any more. Are they okay? OMG, is BROKER’S okay? Are they still making it? Are they doing great but have cut Canada off? Do they think Canadians are hooligans? OMG!

BROKER’S has captured dozens of international awards for its fresh, dry and slightly floral gin. I know we swill a lot of Molson Canadian here in the Great White North, but there must be animals and humans besides yours truly with a bad-ass jones for this crystal-clear elixir.

Did I mention it was cheap compared to other premium gins? Given the labor-intensive production methods the brothers use to make the stuff, this didn’t even compute when I first bought it, but it didn’t matter, because I had my heavenly gin. Where, oh where, can I get a bottle of BROKER’S? Dear followers, please help me.


BEEFEATER gin seems to hold a lot of reminiscences for just about everyone I meet. Perhaps because it’s so ubiquitous, or perhaps because it’s just that good. But chances are, if you’ve had a G&T at any reputable booze hole, it was made with BEEFEATER.

I went to the corporate website (drunk) and found it almost unnavigable, so without benefit of its wisdom I’ll give you my tasting impressions.

BEEFEATER is the most juniper-laced gin I’ve ever tried. In addition to juniper it contains eight other botanicals, the perfect choreography of which dates back to the 1860s when founder James Burrough perfected the recipe.

This sort of pedigree would make me feel comfortable drinking gin with the very elderly. If I were invited to an old-age home to entertain the residents, I’d take along some BEEFEATER and feel absolutely immune from any grey-haired judgment. After all, it was the drink for our elders back in the day, and chances are your granny and granddad were lit up on BEEFEATER all day long.

As forthright as its crazy botanical assortment of flavors is, BEEFEATER is one smooth gin. It won’t ravage your throat, it won’t suddenly disgust you, and it won’t make you thoroughly ill the next day.

If, long ago, you ever managed to sneak a sip from a doddering relative’s gin & tonic, chances are it was garnished with lemon. That’s the English way and perfectly lovely; the North American translation is with lime, and that’s great too. The Liquorstore Bear way is to use both, or any, or neither. With the LB method, tonic is optional too.

My dad thinks of gin as a summer drink and has therefore refused to buy me any, so I am going to appeal to BEEFEATER Corporate to send me some of their newer BEEFEATER 24 product to review for you. I will mention the difficulty I had navigating their website while hosed in the hopes that this will persuade them of my seriousness as a reviewer and my commitment to their beautiful gin. And of course I will assure them that I will in all likelihood RECOMMEND it alongside the tried-and-true original. Wish me luck, humans.