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Review

Tanqueray Old Tom Gin

Distillery

Charles Tanqueray & Co., Cameronbridge Distillery, Windygates, Leven, Fife, Scotland (Diageo Company, Finsbury, 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.

Tanqueray Old Tom Gin was originally released in 1835 and was produced continuously until 1921 when it was withdrawn. There has always been a small group of people (particularly specialist bartenders) who have wanted to use Old Tom Gin in old-fashioned cocktails since its demise, but its availability had become nonexistent. This has changed across the last decade with some producers, including craft distillers, beginning to make Old Tom Gin once again. On the back of Tanqueray’s success with their launch of Malacca in 2013, they re-released this Old Tom Gin in the summer of 2014 to add to the availability of this old style of Gin.

Production

Taken from the recipe book of Charles Tanqueray himself, with notes dating back to 1835, the recipe has been updated by Master Distiller Tom Nichol. These revisions to the original recipe take into account the modern distillation processes used today, and make adjustments to the botanical measurements accordingly. The gin starts out as bought in third party neutral grain spirit which is re-distilled, with the same 4 botanicals used in the standard Tanqueray Gin but in greater proportions, in the 200+ year-old No. 4 copper pot still - fittingly named “Old Tom”. The final distillation is blended with some unaged wheat spirit (which imparts a level of sweetness), a small amount of sweetener (made with powdered sugar beet) plus demineralized and well water, bringing it down to bottling strength.

The Gin is presented in Tanqueray’s iconic bottles (introduced in 1948), 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. Unfortunately, this is for a limited run of 100,000 bottles worldwide and restricted to the “on-trade”(restaurants, bars and hotels) only.

The labels have been designed by UK based Agency Sedley Place, using the red band and gold shield from an original label dating back 1921 but updating such items as the Tanqueray logo. Each bottle is individually numbered, beginning with the initials of 10 different historical Old Tom cocktails on the bottom front label: A for Ampersand; CC for Casino; GD for Gin Daisy; GF for Gin Fizz; HGT for Hot Gin Toddy; M for Martinez; TC for Tom Collins; TD for The Defender; TFC for The Ford Cocktail; and TP for The Purl.

Category

Old Tom Gin.

Alcohol By Volume (ABV)

47.3% (95 Proof).

Price Range

$$$. Destined to be available to the on-trade only, difficult and numerous distribution channels have resulted in its availability to the public, and may be found online at: Hi-Time Wine Cellars; K&L Wines; Beltramo’s; Binny’s Beverage Depot. and Tanqueray direct.

Botanicals

The standard 4 Tanqueray botanicals are used: angelica root (Saxony), coriander (Russia), juniper berries (Tuscany, Italy), and liquorice.

Name

Named after the company founder Charles Tanqueray and the style of Gin – Old Tom.

Tasting Notes

On the nose is juniper and peppery spice with herbal and faint floral notes. On the palate this full-bodied and slightly sweet spirit leads with pleasing juniper and sweet citrus with nutty, fruit and faint floral notes. It has a lovely smooth, soft and chewy mouth feel from the blended wheat spirit. On the long drying juniper finish there is sweet liquorice and peppery spice (coriander) with returning herbal notes at the end. This is clearly one of the better examples of an expertly balanced Gin.

Not as sweet as you might think, this is an extremely good sipping Gin. It makes an excellent Martinez or Tom Collins, and a passable Negroni, but as expected with Old Tom Gin just isn’t right in a Martini or a Gin & Tonic. This is a Gin for both non-Gin drinkers and Gin lovers alike, let’s hope Tanqueray decide to make this Gin a permanent feature of their product line.

Awards & Accolades

Unknown.



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