When James Borrough purchased a small distiller in Chelsea in 1863 little did he expect that the product he created would become a major spirits brand, Beefeater, even less would he have expected that his legacy would spread to over 100 countries worldwide.
The distillery had been founded in 1822 by John Taylor, and the distillery established itself as producing a high quality product. Borrough had become fascinated by the distillation process while training as a pharmacist in the United States. When he returned to the United Kingdom he purchased the distillery with the goal of producing the finest gin possible.
The gin he created utilized nine botanicals, the precise combination becoming a close guarded trade secret (of which only 6 people know the complete recipe), though citrus peel, juniper berries, angelica, corriander seed and almonds are known to be part of the recipe.
Unlike any gin of the time all the components of the gin are allowed to steep together for 24hrs prior to distillation to maximize and balance the flavours in the gin, a process that continues to this day, and remains unique.
To emphasize the London background of his gin, Borrough was motivated to use an image of a Yeoman Warders on his product, and name it after their unofficial name - Beefeater. To this day, the Yeoman Warder image is present on the bottle, and has become an icon of the global spirits industry.
The product's success was rapid and by 1900 distribution of the gin had already reached Canada. To cope with ever increasing demand the distillery was moved and expanded to a new site in Lambeth, London in 1908. With this new production capability, distribution continued to grow with the product being sold in over half a dozen countries around the globe.
With further demands being placed on the distillery, operations where once again moved in 1958, this time to Kennington, London - and production continues there to this day. In 1963 Beefeater became the largest export brand in the British Isles, and achieved 2nd place in US market share.
It was not until 1987 that the company left Borrough's family control with the purchase of the brand by Whitbread. However this ownership situation would not last and the brand was purchased in 1991 by Allied Domecq as an effort to expand their spirits portfolio. The acquisition also gave the brand access to greater distribution channels, accelerating its expansion worldwide. Due to the acquisition of Allied Domecq by a rival firm, Beefeater became property of Pernod Ricard in 2005.
Since its introduction Beefeater Gin has become one of the most awarded spirit brands. Recently, the brand was awarded the Greenall's Trophy for Gin at the International Wine and Spirits Competition in 2002, 2003, 2004 - twice for Beefeater Gin and once for its duty free exclusive Crown Jewel.
The brand's product range was extended in 2002 with the release of Beefeater Wet, a gin infused with pear. Due to the difficulty in flavoring gin, and general consumer disinterest, the product was quickly abandoned by the company, and production quickly ceased. To confront the brand becoming stale by consumers in 2007 Beefeater underwent an extensive marketing redesign, aiming to attract changing consumer tastes and capture increased market share.
Despite the setback of Beefeater Wet, the brand is still the number one premium gin worldwide, with a leading position in Spain and being number three in the important US market. The brand is proud that it is the only distillery still operating in London.
Beefeater has played a strong role water racing for many years, sponsoring the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race from 1987 to 1988 and is a presenting sponsor of the offshore racing team Freedom America.
The brand has also been active in sponsoring golf, backing the U.X. Open Alternative Golf Tour since 2001.
- Beefeater London Dry Gin
- Crown Jewel