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Review

Tanqueray Malacca Gin

Distillery

Charles Tanqueray & Co., Cameronbridge Distillery, Windygates, Leven, Fife, Scotland (Diageo Company, London, England), UK. Imported into the USA by Diageo North America, Norwalk, Connecticut.

Website

Tanqueray and Diageo.

History

The Tanqueray family were originally silversmiths from France but immigrated to England during the early 1700’s. They settled in Bedfordshire and for three generations were clergymen. A young twenty year-old Charles Tanqueray established a distillery in 1830, in Bloomsbury, London, UK. Tanqueray was obsessed with producing a premium product, and after some research and success, he gained substantial recognition for his gin. It was Charles Tanqueray's innovation to combine his mix of botanicals with a small amount of the neutral grain spirit, redistilling this mixture into a flavor concentrate, which was then distilled again to achieve the rich complexity of the final product.

In 1868 Charles Waugh Tanqueray, at the same age of 20, took over the running of the business when his father died aged 58. In 1898 they merged with Alexander Gordon and Co (to form Tanqueray Gordon & Co.) making it the world’s largest gin company at that time. In 1941 their London Distillery was destroyed in a German bombing raid and the only piece to survive was a copper pot still, called “Old Tom”, now over 200 years old.

They merged with a group of 6 other distillers to form The Distillers Company Ltd (DCL) in 1922. In 1986 Guinness bought DCL, creating United Distillers (UD) a year later. John Tanqueray, the great great-grandson of the founder retired from the business in 1989, being the last remaining member of the family to work with the company. In 1997 UD merged with Grand Metropolitan to create Diageo. All production for Tanqueray Gin was moved from England to Fife in Scotland in 1998. Today Diageo sell in over 180 countries and can truly be said to be a worldwide company.

Originally Charles Tanqueray created this recipe for Tanqueray Malacca as a spiced Gin back in 1839 - it is unclear if it was ever publically produced, or perhaps it was only used privately within the family. Eventually Tanqueray decided to launch Malacca in 1997 as a variation on the original recipe - being more aromatic and spicier, with a sweeter and wetter approach. Unfortunately this proved unsuccessful commercially and was short lived, being discontinued in 2001. It is fair to say this product was ahead of its time and is no doubt the key reason for its unfortunate withdrawal. Since being discontinued it has developed something of a cult status amongst the trade and consumers alike, leading to it being known as the "Unicorn" of Gin. Thus, in 2012 when Diageo announced the launch of a re-run of this spirit for 2013, there was much rejoicing. Unfortunately, this was a limited run of 100,000 bottles for the US and Western Europe markets (the distribution split 50/50) and restricted to the “on-trade”(restaurants, bars and hotels) only.

Production

Tanqueray uses neutral grain spirit distilled three times in copper pot stills with the standard 4 botanical flavorings, plus additional spices according to a secret family recipe now only known by the Master Distiller Tom Nichol. This mix is then distilled for a fourth and final time, in number ten still with aromas and flavors infusing in the vapors, which are condensed to form the Gin. It so happens that number ten still is the one used to produce Tanqueray No. Ten and thus there is limited time and availability in it’s usage – perhaps another reason for Malacca being discontinued, the 2013 limited run and the possibility it will not be repeated.

Tanqueray’s iconic bottles (introduced in 1948) are used but produced in clear glass rather than the usual green. The Tanqueray family crest on the packaging is still evident, showing a pineapple and two crossed battle-axes. The pineapple represents hospitality (in the 1800’s they were rare and expensive) and the battle-axes are said to represent the family’s participation in the third crusade.

Category

New Western Dry Gin. In 2009, Ryan Magarian (who had a hand in the creation of Avaiation Gin) highlighted Tanqueray Malacca as possibly the first brand in this category of Gin!

Alcohol By Volume (ABV)

40% (80 Proof).

Price Range

$$$ - $$$$. Despite the limited 2013 run being destined for “on-trade” only it seems to have made its way into the general market place. Try Astor Wines, Haskell’s or Drink Up NY.

Botanicals

The standard 4 Tanqueray botanicals are used: angelica root (Saxony), coriander (Russia), juniper berries (Tuscany, Italy), and liquorice. Plus a secret blend of spices, possibly including: cassia bark or cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg – all of these we have identified on the palate (at least to us!). It has also been suggested the secret blend might include vanilla or even sarsaparilla too.

Name

The name probably comes from the Malacca Straits, a stretch of sea between Malaysia and Singapore (there is also a state of Malacca in Malaysia, with a Port of Malacca). It is thought Charles Tanqueray used spices from this geographical area in this Gin recipe.

Tasting Notes

On the nose is lemon citrus (coriander) and faint pine (juniper). On the palate this slightly sweet and smooth spirit has clear lemon citrus (so strong it even resembles grapefruit and lime) with juniper and some spice notes (cinnamon and nutmeg). The clean citrus close has a long warm pepper and spice finish with faint clove notes. All in all, a well-rounded Gin with a wonderful mouth feel.

This is a lightly flavored juniper and less astringent Gin, with the citrus lemon taking more of the center stage but do not mistake this for being subtle or too soft – it’s strongly coherent. It will not necessarily be to every ardent Gin drinkers taste but does make for a nice sipping Gin. Despite this less traditional flavor profile, it has a rich texture and the net result is very refreshing. This is ideal for less ardent Gin drinkers or just plain good drinking for long summer nights - particularly true in a Gin and Tonic and a very dry Martini - where the smoothness makes for a pleasing drink. While not always to everyone’s taste, we especially like this in an Aviation, a Martinez or a Pink Gin.

We feel the Gin’s citrus qualities do not make a good choice for mixing with other fruity citrus flavored mixed drinks e.g. a Gimlet, a Tom Collins etc. Some will disagree with this, so try it for yourself and see, you might just like it – let the joys of your own palate decide.

Back in the late 1990’s this was hailed as the nearest thing to an Old Tom Gin available on the market (there were no Old Tom Gins as there are now). However, this is not an Old Tom Gin, the barkeeper’s secret at the time was to add additional sweetness to the drink (e.g. simple syrup, sugar etc.) to give it this flavor profile.

Some have said they find the 2013 release has a weaker (dialed back) flavor profile compared to the original. Our tasting notes from the late 1990’s show it to be spicy and herbal with a great peppery finish. Unfortunately we did not record any details regarding the levels of intensity and this really needs a side-by-side comparison to judge effectively. All our indications point us to believe the 2013 release is the same, if there is any difference we can only suggest it might have less of a herbal intensity.

Awards & Accolades

Unknown.



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