When Beefeater announced Burrough’s Reserve Gin back in 2013, the echoes were immediately “so look here, the big guys have decided to get into Barrel Aging their gin.” And the big guys indeed. Beefeater who has been quite busy this decade, with seasonal blends and city versions. Burrough’s Reserve represents a bold attempt to capitalize on name and begin to take some of the emerging, but still small Aged Gin market.
In Our own <100 Words
“The Gin for Free Thinkers” it proudly proclaims in its marketing materials, to borrow five words from Beefeater. Nevermind, that Oak resting isn’t quite “new” [Seagram’s, many small distillers in the US] on its own. What is novel, or rather rare, is the use of wine barrels. In this case, Burrough’s Reserve is rested in Jean De Lillet barrels made of French Oak. For those taking notes, French Oak is said to impart “sweeter,” smoother and more “creamy” notes, with long lasting floral notes. These particular differences when compared to American Oak show up in the gin itself.
The Gin is a light amber color, with a slight shimmer of golden hues in it: it is neither subtle, nor dark.
Warm, with floral notes, lemon, orange peel, camphorous herbal mid-notes hinting at pine and rosemary at the same time, but never directly. A kind of amorphous multi-faceted nose that is inviting, but complex.
The palate begins up front with some citrus. Lemon peel in particular, then some mid-notes that bring comparisons to a more traditional gin, with some earthy angelica complimented with a touch of cassia and nutmeg. The finish is where there’s a touch of piney juniper, but the highlight is the creamy rich finish with vanilla, citrus, and a hint of warm, sweet, oak. Again, like the nose, complex and interesting, with many different flavors catching one another. One thing that did catch me off guard is that the base spirit does not immediately remind me of Beefeater. Though there’s some traditional notes, the profile leans slightly more contemporary.
The oak and wood notes are nicely balanced and well integrated into the over all mix. There’s a slight hint of fermented and oxidized fruit near the finish. It could either be some combination of the French Oak, or the spirit which was aged prior to Burrough’s Reserve in the barrel, but I found the way the wood plays with the gin to be strongly reminiscent of No. 209’s Sauvignon Blanc (), and it has me beginning to think that perhaps that wine barrels might have something more to offer gin than some of the new oak, or bourbon barrels we’ve been seeing more and more of. Just a thought for the future as the aged gin market begins to mature further. The fact alone that Beefeater has put out a barrel rested gin is surely a sign that it’s no longer an experiment on the fringes. It has hit the mainstream. Brace yourselves, more aged gin is coming.
So Burrough’s Reserve is designed to be sipped neat and not mixed. For the first time ever, we actually took their advice. [and at this price point, $70, you probably don’t want to be mixing with it]. I did sip it neat and found it to be smooth, and quite enjoyable. It was very easy to drink and clearly the overall design of the spirit, bringing it to market and a relatively modest 86 Proof, has contributed to that. Mixed with ice, we found some of the creamy and earthy notes a little more muted; the same from the freezer. It was good, but the chilling merely dulled some of the sensation. If you bought Beefeater Burrough’s Reserve and found it “too flavorful,” than perhaps ice or chilling might be for you. I would recommend against it, and even suggest that you drink it neat.
Okay, you got me. I thought it worked quite well in a Martini as well. There’s a lot of notes that a good pairing spirit could bring out of here. A good vermouth will highlight some of the herbal overtones and color in the oxidized low notes; an Alaska Cocktail with a touch of yellow Vermouth also brings out the herbal overtones, but instead gives it a greater depth to the floral notes. They taste almost vegetative, and impressively the creamy, almond and vanilla, oak and lemon notes still come through on the finish. Quite nice.
Price: $70 / 750 mL
Origin: [flag code=”GB” size=”16″ text=”no”] UK
Availability: United Kingdom and United States
Rating: At this price point, I’m reluctant to give it an over-the-top recommendation. It’s a well-made spirit. It’s good, it works, and it’s enjoyable neat or in a martini. But at $70 [or in the UK I’ve seen it an even more heinous 70 Pound] it’s more of a luxury or status-buy than a must-have.
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