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Review

Tanqueray No. Ten 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.

This brand was initially launched in the US in 2000 and many people surmise, although not confirmed, this was a direct response to the increasing dominance of Bombay Sapphire in the marketplace. It is marketed as a Martini Gin and believe this to be as a result of many reviewers liking the original Tanqueray in a Gin & Tonic but less so in a Martini.

Production

Tanqueray No. Ten uses neutral grain spirit distilled three times in copper pot stills from wheat, according to a secret family recipe. The initial mix of the citrus fruit is first distilled, many producers use dried citrus peel in their Gin, but Tanqueray have broken new ground to become the first to use fresh whole fruit (chopped grapefruit, orange and lime) in this brands production. For this stage they use the almost 100 year-old 400 liter number 10 still affectionately called “Tiny Ten” (which was originally used for trial production runs). A relatively unusual approach at this stage of distillation is the amount of “tops and tails” discarded - most Gins discard around 10% of the distillate whilst Tanqueray No. Ten discards around 40% - leaving a very pure 60% distillate heart.

This “citrus heart” is now distilled again using more neutral wheat grain spirit and the second botanical mix consisting of more chopped fresh limes, chamomile and the standard four botanicals as used in the original Tanqueray. Although the proportions used vary from the original, some may be surprised to learn Tanqueray No. Ten uses more juniper! This second stage of the final distillation is carried out in the much older and larger (10,000 liter) number 4 still – “Old Tom”. Tanqueray believe this method of production using the final double distillation process, assures smoothness, complexity and delicacy of flavor. Unlike the original Tanqueray, which uses a blend of water, Tanqueray No. Ten only uses demineralized water throughout production.

This spirit sheds the iconic Tanqueray cocktail shaker shaped bottle and uses something quite different. While the emerald color is used and it follows an art deco style the bottle is tall and has an octagonal faceted shape, tapered from the bottom upwards to create broad shoulders. Many, especially bartenders, find this provides for a more practical and secure bottle to grip. The Tanqueray family crest is still on the packaging, 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.

This product is glutten-free.

Category

Distilled Dry Gin.

Alcohol By Volume (ABV)

47.3% (95 Proof).

Price Range

$$$. Available online, try: Universal Fine Wine & SpiritsMerwin LiquorsHaskell’s or Bevmo.

Botanicals

The classic 4 original Tanqueray botanicals are used: angelica root (Saxony), coriander (Russia), juniper berries (Tuscany, Italy), and liquorice. Plus the following 4 additions: chamomile, white grapefruit (Florida, USA), lime (Mexico) and orange. We are also led to believe there may be further additional botanicals beyond this list - if so they remain a very closely guarded secret.

Name

Named after the company founder, Charles Tanqueray and the still it is made in – No. Ten, also known as “Tiny Ten” because it is a relatively small still. The Gin is fondly referred to as "T-10" by fans.

Tasting Notes

On the nose are strong citrus (grapefruit) with pine (juniper), spice (coriander) and faint floral (chamomile) notes, all classic Gin elements – it is pleasant to spend some time just nosing this spirit! On the palate this full-bodied and oily but soft and slightly sweet spirit has gentle yet zesty citrus (lemon and lime), growing juniper and chamomile. The close is very dry, slightly peppery, spicy with a light bitterness and a hint of floral chamomile. It lingers with a crisp, smooth (almost orange) citrus, creamy finish. This is a reasonably complex and well-rounded Gin.

This is very nice for sipping neat. London Dry Gin traditionalists may not fully enjoy this, although all the elements of such are there, it also grows on you the more you drink. However, new Gin drinkers and those who prefer a softer style Gin, may well fall in love with this at first sip.

This does well in a Gin & Tonic and one may omit the slice of lemon or lime given the flavor profile, or even replace it with a slice of grapefruit (recommended to us although not been tried by us yet). This soft Gin may lose its complexity by being a little overshadowed by the tonic and while we were not entirely adverse to the overall taste, we found we preferred the older brother (the original Tanqueray) in our G&T’s – less expensive with a greater “bite”. In a Martini we were unable to reach a firm decision: some find it too subtle whilst others enjoy the very refreshing softer citrus and slightly herbal profile – it certainly has character. Our Martini conclusion is the citrus hides a little of the juniper and people will either like it, or choose a more ardent Gin instead! We have to admit to wanting to get more Tanqueray No. Ten to try out further mixed drinks – we hear its good in a Gimlet or Tom Collins but are unsure due to the existing citrus profile – we’ll keep you posted!

Compared with the original Tanqueray Gin, the quality in this is certainly higher, its smoother and it has a clearer identity with its robust flavor profile. The citrus separates this from Tanqueray and while not like Bombay Sapphire, the softness and lighter Gin “punch” makes it likeable to a similar audience – both reaching large market appeal. However, do not dismiss this Gin, if you have not tried it we urge you to do so – it has a strong following for a reason and it might just become a favorite of yours because its hard not to like it.

Awards & Accolades

96 – 100 Points, Wine Enthusiast.

Double Gold Medal, San Francisco World Spirits Competition, 2011.

Silver Medal, International Wine and Spirit Competition, 2008.

Silver Medal, Drinks International Gin Challenge, 2008.

Silver Medal, International Wine and Spirit Competition, 2007.

Double Gold Medal, San Francisco World Spirits Competition, 2006.

Gold Medal, World Spirits Award, 2006.

Silver Medal, International Wine and Spirit Competition, 2006.

Double Gold Medal, San Francisco World Spirits Competition, 2005.

Double Gold Medal, San Francisco World Spirits Competition, 2004.

Invested into the San Francisco World Spirits Hall of Fame, a newly created award for the first spirit ever to win Best in Show (White Goods) three times (2000, 2001 and 2003).

Best of Show (White Goods) and Double Gold Medal, San Francisco World Spirits Competition, 2003.

Gold Medal, International Spirits Challenge, 2002.

Best of Show (White Goods) and Double Gold Medal, San Francisco World Spirits Competition, 2001.

Best of Show (White Goods) and Double Gold Medal, San Francisco World Spirits Competition, 2000.

Bronze Medal, International Wine and Spirit Competition, 2000.

Music

Music to listen to while drinking a T10: "The Ballard of The Snow Leopard and The Tanqueray Cowboy" by Melissa Greener (originally by David Rodriguez).



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