On Thursday 16th March a team of seven Lexy managers set out to learn all about gin at the Beefeater Distillery in Kennington.
Gathering at the doors of Edwardian distillery, the group were curious as to how much there was to learn about a seemingly transparent spirit…
Furnished with iPads, the tour begins with a journey through London’s past, narrating the arrival of gin from Holland in the 1600’s through to its present day boom.
We learnt how it was the arrival of exotic goods from the British Empire that inspired Beefeater’s creator, James Burrough, to develop a recipe of nine natural botanicals and as such Beefeater London Dry Gin was born.
The exhibition provides a fascinating glimpse into the social changes which have taken place in our capital city from the Georgian era to present, as politics, recession and colonialism helped to shape the flavour of gin.
From spice-laden Covent Garden Market, secret speakeasies and plush cocktail bars, the evolution of gin as we know it today owes a large hand to Victorian entrepreneurs and some savvy American barmen who have made gin the world’s favourite cocktail spirit.
The second half of the tour offers a view of distilling in action, it was amazing to see that Beefeater gin is still handmade to this day! Just three talented gin makers are responsible for creating over 2.3 million litres of gin. True to their London roots, Beefeater’s recipe remains unchanged from the 1860’s original, closely guarded by Master Distiller Desmond Payne, the world’s most experienced gin distiller.
While most other distilleries had left the capital by the turn of the millennium, the fashion for gin drinking and craft products has bolstered sales for the Beefeater distillery, enabling them to remain at their Kennington site, with their small team of three producing 2.3 million litres per year by hand.
We finished the session off by looking at the different botanicals that go into gin, learning about how it’s steeped and ‘cut’ to be bottled and then of course finished it all off with G&T or two…
A self-confessed gin lover, it seems shameful to admit I knew so little about this drink’s illustrious past, but know the next sip will taste even better accompanied by the knowledge of just what has helped to shape its unique flavour.