We all know the world’s gone pink drink crazy, so it’s little surprise to see Beefeater step into the fray in March with the launch of their Beefeater Pink, a strawberry infused number that sees the classic London Dry recipe infused after distillation and bottled at 37.5% ABV.
The initial reception for it has been mixed amongst the critics to say the least, while it’s popular appeal is already paying dividends and in doing so, the gin has polarised online opinions between those head over heals in love and those in complete dismay.
No one would pick up a bottle of Beefeater Pink and anticipate it to have a juniper forward nose, and upon inspection, the first impressions don’t defy the visuals. The aroma is much like the colour, vivid and overall has more of bubble gum pink artificial feel, rather than fresh fruit – but it’s boisterous and delivers what one expects to find.
To taste the candied sweetness emerges a little stronger alongside the strawberry. Thankfully, juniper is clearly playing some part in anchoring the liquid from being a run away fiasco and credit should be given to the team for showing some restraint in how much they dosed the strawberry. The finish is a touch watery due the lower ABV, but there’s a warming spice that grows towards the end and overall we’re reminded, both positively and negatively, that underneath the slightly synthetic strawberry mix, is a solid gin.
For a keenly priced mass-product, squarely aimed at the lower end of the supermarket shelves and in particular, the Spanish market (that’s been drinking gallons of strawberry Gin for the past 18 months), Beefeater Pink is not bad compared to some of the others out there.
While this backhanded compliment of a tasting note may seem as insulting as it is a feeble attempt at being objective (we make no qualms about not having a natural love of sweetened, fruit infused gins), our ambivalence to Beefeater Pink is because it’s difficult to say congratulations for such a release given the wider context surrounding the distillery.
Beefeater London Dry is the biggest gin in the Spanish market so for the Chivas team to look towards their national trends during new product development makes sense. To not have a flavoured gin in a market that drinks so much of it, especially strawberry, is a glaring missed opportunity and one that no-one could begrudge them perusing.
To release it elsewhere however, is a less straightforward affair and in some ways, one that missed a much bigger possible outcome and seems at odds with the direction they were traveling in since November.
Beefeater has a master distiller in his 50th and they were / are actively celebrating the milestone. Regular Gin Foundry readers will also remember the news that Payne has just been awarded an MBE for his services to the gin industry. As a brand, they have been overhauling their wider look bringing it into 2018 with the design of their Beefeater 24 expression the most notable of the changes. Meanwhile, the wider gin portfolio workforce within Chivas has transitioned through internal changes that has allowed them as a team to be more responsive and effective at focusing their attention on building for the future. They were / are poised to do something phenomenal. Beefeater Pink being the culmination of this collective work, this milestone moment in Payne’s career, this aesthetic overhaul, is not.
It’s also why Beefeater Pink wasn’t something anyone was really expecting in the UK. Good brands have the confidence to walk the walk, for long enough to build trust in the message and maintain it. To make all the right moves, to hit the big milestones, to be building trust and attention, brand currency and crucially, to have the moment in time where your figure head is at his peak (both in experience and in reputation) but to not stay true to it, is frustrating to see.
Beefeater Pink will fly off the shelves, the liquid is okay (and certainly doesn’t deserve the ferocity of commentary that’s been thrown at it lately), the brand identity work around is very catchy, BUT, in our opinion as a release it delivers far under what they as a brand are conceptually capable of, especially in this milestone year. We respect that a lot of effort has gone into this product and in many ways, that a lot of experience has gone into making taste better than what many people’s preconceptions will assume of it. However, Beefeater is the bedrock of classic London Dry, the trusty cabinet staple and we would have loved to see them do something that maintained that status.
Many will argue that the liquid will help bring more into the category and we’ll certainly agree that there is a place for it on the market today. That said; there’s no rational reason for Beefeater to pursue strawberry as a flavour, no brand synergy and no provenance links to name. If they were aiming at releasing an accessible fruit infusion for the modern drinker, it would have been nice to see something that linked back into the Burrough archives, or to London where they draw so many of their USP’s from.
Not doing so shows Beefeater Pink isn’t about having a gateway gin to bring in newcomers to the category or the brand, but merely seizing an opportunity to capitalise on the enormous potential of the Spanish market’s thirst for a very specific flavoured gin brand, much in the same way British producers have been attempting to get in on the Rhubarb action, lead by one brand leader here.
This begs the question – why not focus it to the Spanish market? Perhaps there’s a lot more to come over summer as Beefeater, along with many others, look to knock off Pimm’s from the default pour that fills pitchers across the nation. The design and graphic identity that’s been created around it is both eye catching and impactful enough to stand out in that arena – and when looked at in this light, the price point, flavour and ABV become positive attributes that give it half a chance to do so.
Only time will tell if the reputational risk will be far outweighed by the bump in sales and the longer-term realisation by enthusiasts and London Dry purists like ourselves, that Fruit Gins are now a major part of the Gin category.
We also cross our fingers that those who discover Beefeater through their Pink edition will, in time, discover their flagships. So, if you are reading this having Googled ‘Beefeater Pink Review’ and loved everything about this strawberry infused gin but can’t understand why we are not as enthusiastic, seek out the rest of the range – there’s few distilleries that can boast a rock solid core range that’s a good as theirs.
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