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Fords Gin


The 86 Co., New York, USA and Thames Distillers Ltd., Clapham, London, England, UK.


The 86 Co. and Fords Gin.


The name of the company “86” is an American slang term for “dispose” or “get rid” of something. The origin of the term is disputed but the top runners are: (i) from the short order cook/restaurant business as in “86 the apple pie”; (ii) alternatively it could originate from the Navy where form AT6 is used to dispose of defunct equipment (this quickly turned into the phrase “86”). The company name was thought up the founders as part of their ethos, they wanted to “86 the bulls***” in the spirit business with simple straightforward honest quality products for the bar trade.

This Gin is a collaboration with Thames Distillers, instigated by English born Simon Ford of The 86 Co. based in New York City. Simon and his business partners spent about 6 years planning, including over 1-year testing different recipe variations with bartenders before settling on the final 81st recipe for this Gin. Partners at The 86 Co. include expert bartenders Jason Kosmas and Dushan Zaric, part owners of Employees Only (a great restaurant and bar in NYC) and authors of a cocktail guide called “Speakeasy”. 

Thames Distillers is run by Charles Maxwell who is the 8th generation of the family (founders of the Finsbury Distillery) who have been producing Gin since 1700 – making them the oldest unbroken lineage in Gin distillation.

The Gin was launched in the fall of 2012, with the marketing slogan of “It doesn’t take an Empire to make a Gin.” Certainly a pun given the origins of the botanicals and the several locations for different stages in the production process.


It is made in two John Dore 500-Liter copper pot stills, named “Tom Thumb” and “Thumbelina”. The base spirit is made from English Wheat and the botanicals are steeped for 15 hours before the final distilling, taking around 5 hours. From here, the Gin is shipped to Charbay Distillery & Winery in Ukiah, California, USA, where it is cut with pure water from a well in Mendocino County and bottled.

The Gin is presented in a tall clear cylindrical bottle, which tapers in at the middle and has an indented ridge two thirds of the way up the bottle. They believe this is more ergonomic for the dispensing of drinks. There is an off white label and band, with green writing, below and above the indented ridge respectively. Designed by United Creatives based in Manchester, UK.


London Dry Gin.

Alcohol By Volume (ABV)

45% (90 Proof).

Price Range

$$ - $$$. Available online, try: Cask Store, K&L Wines, Bottle Bargains, Binny’s Beverage depotAstor Wines or Drink Up NY.


The 9 botanicals, from London based Joseph Flach & Son, include: angelica (Poland), cassia bark (Indonesia), coriander seeds (Romania), grapefruit peel (Turkey), jasmine flower (China), juniper berries (Italy), lemon peel (Spain), (bitter) orange peel (Haiti/Morocco) and orris root (Italy/Morocco).


Named after the co-founder of The 86 Co., Simon Ford.

Tasting Notes

On the nose are pine and lavender (both from the juniper) plus citrus (lemon) with hints of spice (coriander), earthy herbs and floral (jasmine) aspects. On the palate this oily full-bodied spirit has creamy smooth dry juniper and crisp citrus (lemon & orange) with traces of sweet anise, herbs and peppery spice. On the close is citrus and dry juniper and floral (jasmine) notes in a long bitter peppery spice and earthy herbal finish. This is a nicely soft, polished and complex Gin.

This is a classic juniper forward Gin with traditional citrus which Gin lovers should adore. The Gin is well made and can be sipped neat (although this was not one of the original objectives) but is best utilized in mixed drinks, as intended. In a Gin & Tonic the forward juniper makes for a strong bitter dry enjoyment in this drink. This makes a smooth Martini with its dry juniper and citrus flavors clearly made for Vermouth, with faint floral lavender and jasmine notes in the background adding that something special. We also think the Aviation is another good choice due to these floral notes mixing so well.

The 86 Co. set out to make versatile spirits and Ford’s Gin is no exception. It is a straightforward offering with no hooks, unusual ingredients, secrets or strange designs. It delivers a versatile and very satisfying Gin, many modern ones often lack, at a great price. Well done guys we heartedly recommend this for all bars around the world.

Awards & Accolades

90 Points, Beverage Testing Institute.

Gold Medal, San Francisco World Spirits Competition, 2013.

Chairman’s Trophy, Ultimate Spirits Challenge, 2013.

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