Letters: Can I make my own Beefeater?

Dear Mr. Dowd:

Years ago I heard that if you mix together the cheapest bottle of vodka you can find and the cheapest bottle of gin you can find, you will have the equivalent of Beefeater Gin. Can this possibly be true? Or, possibly I heard this from someone too cheap to buy a good bottle of booze.

-- Jeanie in Virginia

Dear Jeanie:

That's kind of a stretch. While gin and vodka both begin as neutral grain spirits, they diverge markedly in the process of creating the final products.

Also, if you mix two cheap ingredients you get one cheap result. Beefeater's quality level and taste are anything but cheap.

Gins have a usually complex set of botanicals infused into them, with each distiller having its own secret recipe. They may let you know which botanicals are used, and often display that information on their labels, but they won't divulge the proportions, the geographic origins of the items, and so on. Also, the type of local water used in the distillation process makes a huge difference from place to place.

Vodka must, by law, be odorless, tasteless and colorless. However, a decent palate can easily detect taste variances, particularly among vodkas made from potatoes and those made from grains and those made with a mix of the two. Also, many vodka distillers also offer lines of products with various flavor infusions.

I hope that answers your question. Thanks for writing.

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