Thursday, April 28, 2016

Distill Wars Episode V: Beefeater vs. Tanqueray

Distill Wars Episode V: Beefeater vs. Tanqueray

Distill Wars is back and this time it's botanical! Gin, motherfuckers!

It's spring time... or as anybody that's actually fun calls it: gin and tonic season. There's nothing that says "oh shit, this warm weather feels so fucking good" than a cold, refreshing gin and tonic. But be careful! There's nothing worse than a gin and tonic hangover so be smart and limit yourself to two, then move on to some other form of alcohol. Earn a hangover some other way.

Beefeater and Tanqueray are the big-gun gins on the market. There's far better ones, such as Martin Miller and Hendricks, but these guys are the ones that you're gonna see the most and people will be buying the most. So it's time to see which one is better.

What's the difference between the two? I'll tell you, but first I need to explain what gin actually is. Gin was the first flavored vodka, created in the middle ages using juniper berry as a botanical to help people's digestive system. And guess what? It actually worked! Soon after its creation, gin was paired with quinine tonic because the combo helped fight off malaria. Gin and tonic were meant to be together.

Lots of different styles of gin were created but the one with any real staying power was the London Dry style, Beefeater being the only one left that is actually produced in London. Tanqueray is also a London Dry but it's produced in Scotland. To be a gin of any style, not just London Dry, it has to have juniper berry as a botanical. After that you can have anything like orange peel, rose pedals, cucumbers, stinky socks, whatever.

The real difference between Beefeater and Tanqueray, other than the botanicals that are used, is when these botanicals are added. Neither of them use a gin head, where the vapors pass through the botanicals, but they toss them in the base spirit. Beefeater defuses its botanicals, like a tea bag, in the spirit for 24 hours before they redistill it. Tanqueray tosses them in without any steeping time just before it's redistilled.

Beefeater's nose has a crisp feeling to it. Juniper berry is the main aroma along with lemon peel, orange peel and licorice (all in their recipe of botanicals). It just makes me want to grab the tonic and lime right now. Tanqueray's nose is more aggressive with the ethanol. There's more citrus than juniper berry and the coriander shows up. Even though I like how you can detect the coriander in Tanq, the Beefeater is both more complex and inviting in aroma.

In the mouth Beefeater is stingy, sharp and crisp. The citrus peel is big on the palate and it's also pretty peppery. The Tanqueray comes in smoother, sweeter and bigger bodied. It tastes like I swallowed shampoo. Beefeater has a longer lasting finish in flavor but shorter burn finish, while Tanqueray's flavor fades quickly and burns longer.

I can't go on any longer. I have to call it.

WINNER: Beefeater London Dry Gin

It's just a better gin. There's more going on and it's more pleasant. Although Tanqueray isn't terrible, it's left feeling like a well gin in comparison to Beefeater. Don't be "ready to Tanqueray". Instead ask "where's the beef?" first.

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