Becketts London Dry Gin is our Gin of the Month, so we sat down with Neil Beckett to talk about his impeccably balanced gin.
What was the inspiration behind starting Beckett’s Gin?
Some less charitable friends declared it to be a midlife crisis but since I’m not into fast cars creating my own gin was the obvious alternative!
I think it was more down to a desire to create the perfect G&T and, indeed, a gin so smooth it would also be regarded as a fine sipping gin.
Becketts is a firm favourite at Gin Festival HQ, can you tell us about the gin in your own words?
Becketts is a beautifully balanced classic gin. It is crisp, citrusy and wonderfully refreshing whilst also being delightfully long and smooth on the finish. Very moreish indeed!
I use just six botanicals and a couple of them are pretty special. We add mint which we grow here in the back garden in Kingston-upon-Thames; it seems to combine with juniper very nicely, giving it that cool pine flavour. But most special of all is our use of English juniper berries from Box Hill in Surrey. Most other gins source their juniper exclusively overseas so it is wonderful for us to be able to pick them ourselves just down the road at such a beautiful location.
Add to that two wonderfully balanced citruses in lime and sweet orange peel and you have a simple yet beautiful London dry gin.
Can you tell us more about your Juniper conservation efforts?
To pick the juniper from Box Hill in Surrey we needed the consent of Natural England and the National Trust. Permission is required as juniper is increasingly rare in England and is, therefore, a priority species for conservation. Yet, it is indigenous to England, you only have to look at the number of places with juniper in their name to realise that it didn’t use to be so rare.
So, in return for permission, we are undertaking a long-term conservation project to help save juniper by creating new populations from seed.
However, it soon became apparent to me why juniper has become so rare! It is the panda of plants, seemingly having little interest in reproduction! So this is proving to be a long process, though I’m really pleased to say that our first ever English juniper seedlings emerged in June.
What has the reaction to Becketts being like so far?
It has been fantastic, everyone really likes our gin, its taste, unique provenance and our conservation work. Even though we are a very small company, let’s face it there’s just me, we are selling more Beckett’s every month.
What’s your typical day like?
At the moment it is a combination of visits to existing and new customers, some production work and hopefully a bit of product development squeezed in somewhere!
Oh? Anything new you can tell us about?
Since developing the London dry gin we have produced a batch of sloe gin late last year using our gin and sloes from Box Hill, close to where we pick our juniper berries. The result is really really good though I would say that! I am now working on a few potential options including a higher strength London dry plus one or two infused gins based on a recent walk with the National Trust on Box Hill, there’s a veritable feast of compelling botanicals there!
Aside from Becketts, what’s your favourite gin?
What’s the best thing about what you do?
I suppose it’s the look you get when someone tries Becketts for the first time! The reaction to it when served neat or as a G&T is always so positive it makes my day!
Becketts London Dry Gin is our September 2016 Gin of the Month. Pick up a bottle this month and you'll get a free gin glass engraved with delightfully elegant Becketts logo.
Becketts London Dry is fresh but warm with a whisky-like take on the nose followed by soft juniper and citrus. It is remarkably well balanced: it is zesty and refreshing, bittersweet and aromatic and, somehow, both creamy and dry.
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