Wray & Nephew’s Old Tom Gin; I found this little gem at Graphic Bar in Soho. If you want to try a gin that you’ve not tasted before, this is the place to visit; not only is it a sterling example of a Modern Gin Palace, but they also host the successful, interesting and entertaining Juniper Society, where the bright and beautiful of the Gin World come to hear tales of and drink this juniper spirit. The next event is on Edgerton Pink on Monday 26th September 2011.
Made by Wray & Nephews, the famous rum makers in Jamaica, the bottle of their Old Tom Gin does not say as much, but I suspect that, like Gordon’s Jamaica Cane Gin, it is made from a sugar cane/molasses based spirit.
One thing that struck me initially was that it calls itself an Old Tom Gin; after our tasting of ten Old Tom Gins, this was quite exciting as this gin was:
i) a gin I had not yet tried;
ii) from a country from which I had yet to try a gin; and
iii) an Old Tom Gin that I hadn’t yet tried.
Given the limited time period for this tasting, I stuck to the “Gin Trio” method of tasting: neat (a good way to taste the spirit unimpeded), with tonic, and in a Martini (the two most popular drinks in which to drink gin in, at least, the UK and the USA).
1) On its own
The nose was mainly of alcohol with some cream, but it was ultimately more like a vodka than a gin on the nose. To taste, it had a long oily finish after some juniper and quite a harsh lemon tingle on tongue. Interestingly, there was no noticeable sweetness when compared to normal gin.
2) With Tonic
This had a minimal nose, a bit like glue. You wouldn’t know from smelling it that it was a Gin & Tonic. The flavour was very strong on the alcohol, but had an underlying very basic flavour of juniper and citrus that does just about come through. This is a very, very elementary gin. This tasted like a low quality spirit, but with plenty of ice, a lemon wedge and a flavourful tonic (like Fentiman’s), it would be passable.
This tasted like a vodka Martini: crisp and surprisingly clean, but can you taste the gin? No. That said, this was easily the best drink that I tried in my limited tasting.
Is it an Old Tom Gin? Not really, and certainly not in the traditional sense of the word; it just tastes like normal gin. I think the set-up is very similar to that of Boord’s, both of which pre-date the Hayman-led revival of Classic Old Tom Gin; basically, the “Old Tom” in the name is just that: a name, and has no further reflection on the gin.
World Gin Update