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Review

Old English Gin

Distillery

Henrik Hammer of Hammer & Son Ltd., Frederiksberg (a district but separate town of Copenhagen), Denmark. It is made in the UK (England) at Langley Distillery, Birmingham and bottled by Thames Distillers, Clapham, London.

Website

Old English Gin

History

Danish born Henrik Hammer is a Gin aficionado (his mother used to run a tapas bar in Copenhagen which became famous for its Gin), an accredited Gin judge (IWSC: International Wine & Spirit Competition) and runs tastings and seminars about Gin. With his Chemist Father, Hudi, they developed Geranium Gin – unfortunately his Father sadly died before the Gin was produced. Geranium Gin was launched in 2009 (2011 in the USA).

Henrik’s next offering, Old English Gin was launched in early 2012 (late 2012 in the USA), and like the previous one is made by Langley Distillery. The attention to detail, like his first Gin, is superb.

Production

Henrik has tried his best to create an authentic Old Tom Gin and, whilst this is not possible (e.g. adding turpentine is thankfully not permissible today), this has to be closest to the original we are ever likely to find.

English grown wheat is used to produce the neutral grain base spirit, with the Gin made to a 1783 recipe. 10 of the 11 botanicals are distilled in Angelia (or Grandma) – a 3,000-liter capacity copper pot still made in 1903 by John Dore & Company of London. This is claimed to be the oldest working (British) copper pot gin still in the UK. Formally known as Still No.2 it was renamed after Langley’s Managing Director’s mother.

The 11th botanical, cardamom, is distilled by Henrik himself in Denmark. As he puts it “cardamom is a very dominant botanical and I want to make sure that the balance of the gin is absolutely perfect." This cardamom distillate is shipped to Birmingham where it is blended with the main distillate at Langley distillery and water is added to bring this down to 44% ABV. A little over a 10th of an ounce of sugar is added to just over each quart of distillate prior to bottling in London at Thames Distillers.

Gin back in the late 1700’s would be transported in barrels and delivered to drinking establishments this way, for them to serve customers directly from. At this time bottles were expensive and recycled as much as possible, some customers would bring any container (including bottles) to have them filled so that they could “take away” their drinks of choice. Apparently in 1783 England was the largest importer of French Champagne and these strong robust bottles would have been the bottle of choice for this recycled “take away” usage. Henrik used this information to devise the packaging for his Gin:

The Gin is presented in a dark green colored recycled (reducing the carbon footprint) Champagne bottle (cleaned and sanitized), sealed with a cork and organic black wax (note: a corkscrew is required to open it). It is silk-screen printed with light silver colored text using organic paint (note: the paint easily peels off) making it easy to recycle (once again). At the bottom, in a clear and easy to read size is “Old English Gin” and, above this is a medium sized graphic showing two rampant lions either side of a heraldic shield. Above the shield is a cross sectional image of a cardamom seed pod, in reference to the care Henrik gives in producing the cardamom distillate. In the shield are two crossed hammers, with each of the lions holding a hammer also – these 4 hammers each have a letter on them and together spell out Hudi, Henrik’s father’s name. Hudi was named after Rud Hud Hudibras, an ancient King of the Britons from around 600 BC, give or take a century!

Category

Old Tom Gin.

Alcohol By Volume (ABV)

44% (88 Proof).

Price Range

$$$$ - $$$$$. Limited availability in the USA. Try online at: Westchester Wine

Botanicals

Made using 11 botanicals including: angelica, cardamom, cassia, cinnamon, coriander, juniper berries, lemon, liquorice, nutmeg, orange and orris root.

Name

Back in the 1700’s and 1800’s if you asked for Gin, you’d be asked if you wanted “Holland’s Gin or English Gin” – what we respectively call today, Genever or Old Tom Gin. This Gin is called “Old English Gin” in reference to this original “English Gin” terminology.

Tasting Notes

On the nose is a clear juniper aroma with light citrus notes and green woody hints of pepper spice and herbs. On the palate this full bodied lightly bittersweet smooth spirit that still has a “bite” of juniper and other botanicals. There are notes of citrus (lemon & orange), pine (juniper), spice (cinnamon, coriander & nutmeg) and an herbaceous nuttiness. On the close is a creamy juniper and citrus flavor with hints of (sweet) liquorice and pepper (cardamom) plus faint floral (orris) notes in the long finish. This is an extrovert Gin being well rounded and balanced with complexity and flavor.

This is a quality made Old Tom Gin with true character of heritage, heralding the link between Genever and London Dry Gin. It’s light sweetness makes it perfect for drinking neat, as it would have been back in the 1700’s. However, the dryness makes for a versatile spirit for mixed drinks. This makes a very nice Gin & Tonic, with its bittersweet spicy flavor profile, and we recommend using Fever Tree tonic water with a lemon garnish (enhancing the light citrus notes of the Gin).

Without doubt this is one of the best (if not the best) Old Tom Gin on the market today. Henrik Hammer having obtained a notably excellent offering in the form of Geranium Gin has continued to excel with this Old English Gin too. His truly deserved title, as a Gin Aficionado is perfectly evident in these offerings from Hammer & Son and he has our warmest congratulations. This Gin is very highly recommended.

Awards & Accolades

Gold Medal, San Diego International Spirits Competition, 2013.



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