Cocktails with… Anchor Old Tom Gin

Anchor Old Tom Gin is made by Anchor Distillery in San Francisco – the same distillery that produces one of the first American gins that I ever tried (and still one my favourites): Junipero. Following a recent change to their range, however, my favourite now goes by the name Juniper San Francisco Strength (49.3% ABV) rather than Junipero Export Strength (46% ABV).

Anchor Old Tom was the first gin that the distillery had released for a number of years and was the result of a rather studious amount of research and development. Given that one of the classic Old Tom Gin cocktails, the Martinez, has been long associated (through fact or fiction?) with the town of Martinez, which is just 30 miles away, it is perhaps surprising that The Bay area has not produced an Old Tom before Anchor launched in 2014, but – nonetheless – I was eager to try this one.

The gin’s botanical mix includes some of the regulars (juniper, coriander, citrus), but they’re accompanied by others that add a little sweetness: star anise and licorice. In addition, the gin is sweetened, but not with sugar or honey, but stevia (a natural sweetener from the leaves of the Stevia rebaudiana plant species). It is bottled at 45.0% ABV.

On its own
Nose: A full nose of juniper, juicy pine, and a little woody angelica and spice.
Taste: This has a viscous texture that is smooth and fills the mouth. There are notes of juniper with black pepper and menthol upfront; this moves onto sweet liquorice and a touch of orris. There’s a sweetness, before more spice appears. The finish has a touch of sweet spearmint and pepper.

Whilst sweeter than many Martinis, it is by no means overly sweet. There are plenty of sweet, piney, sappy notes, as well as some menthol spice. Mellow and smooth.

The sweet fennel and anise notes work really well alongside the herbal notes of the red vermouth. This is a very smooth cocktail with plenty of flavour.

This Old Tom makes a very smooth Negroni with plenty of flavour coming through, as well as some extra sweetness. Finally, there’s a long finish of juniper and menthol.

In Conclusion
Anchor Old Tom Gin is a great addition to the range of Old Toms out there; it has a smooth texture, bold flavour, balanced sweetness, and a lovely interplay of herbaceous and spiced notes. My favourite drink was the Martinez.

Anchor Old Tom is available for around £41 for 75cl from Master of Malt


Master of Malt Update – New Origin Gins, Old Tom, Cask Gin and 7 Dials Gin


Yesterday, we looked at Master of Malt’s Cream Gin, which easily deserved its own article, and I mentioned that it would be my penultimate post on the products of Master of Malt for the year. This here is the final one, which will be a bit of a round-robin.

We kick off with Origin Gin, an innovative project launched in July at the Juniper Society’s 2nd Birthday that has been touted by many gin pundits as one of the most exciting gin launches of the year.

Each of the following gins are made in small batches using juniper berries sourced from very specific geographic regions, thereby highlighting the difference that different sources of juniper can make to a gin. They are sold as single-botanical gins (or juniper distillates), but are delivered with a separate small bottle of distillate of other botanicals, which you are free to add (or not), as you choose. I tasted each both on their own and with the additional distillate.

A Map Showing the Sources of the Origin Junipers

A Map Showing the Sources of the Origin Junipers

Master of Malt Origin KosovoOrigin Istog, Kosovo

i) Juniper
Nose: A light nose of green juniper.
Taste: A real juiciness upfront, followed by pine, a little heat and then a dry finish with a hint of anise.

ii) Mixed with other Botanicals
Nose: Deeper notes of pine, plus coriander, too.
Taste: Juniper, then some salt and pepper, followed by coriander, citrus, anise and a hint of cardamom.

On this occasion, I think that the mixed version is more to my taste than the juniper distillate on its own.

Master of Malt Origin CroatiaOrigin Klanac, Croatia

i) Juniper
Nose: Rich, green leaves and pine needles, with a hint of citrus and vanilla.
Taste: Very smooth and clean. The juniper is there, but in a much lighter form, with a little warmth at the end, as well as some vanilla and spice. The finish is long and spicy.

ii) Mixed with other Botanicals
Nose: Vanilla and nutmeg.
Taste: Very warm and spicy; the additional botanicals make an amazing difference and it’s interesting how they bring out some of the more subtle spice and vanilla notes in the original distillate. A good illustration of the Origin project.
Master of Malt Origin MacedoniaOrigin Skopje, Macedonia

i) Juniper
Nose: Slightly sweet, with green leaves and a few, light floral notes.
Taste: Fruity, with green pine mixed in, too, and a very slight floral note. Very succulent, for a single-botanical gin.

ii) Mixed with other Botanicals
Nose: Pine mainly, along with some more savoury notes.
Taste: Quite succulent (juicy – almost in the way a steak is!), with a little saltiness and then juniper interwoven with the cardamon and other spice notes – good potential for use in a toddy.

Moving swiftly on, we take a look at:

Master of Malt SevenDialsGinSeven Dials Gin

This product made to the specification of the London Gin Club / The Star at Night, who we visited here.

Nose: Pine, with coriander and a slight floral hint.
Taste: Zesty to start, with a good dose of spicy cardamom then some coriander and juniper. This is quite an intense gin with a lot going on, but, at the same time, is easy to drink. Pleasantly, this brings something new to the table, which is becoming increasingly difficult.





Finally, here are some Master of Malt gins that I have been remiss with the tardiness of my reviews:

Master of Malt OldTomGinMaster of Malt Old Tom Gin
Building upon their [Bathtub Gin], Master of Malt have gone down the sugar-sweetened route (a more than acceptable choice in my opinion).

Nose: Cinnamon, warming spice and some inviting sweetness and coriander.
Taste: Quite pungent botanically, with dry, piney juniper upfront. Then there’s notable notes of spicy, slightly soapy coriander, some warmth and some sweetness that are followed by the Christmas spices of cinnamon and nutmeg and then more sweetness. It’s very warming from the alcohol, but doesn’t burn. It has a medium-length finish of cilantro.





Master of Malt CaskAgedGinMaster of Malt Cask Aged Gin
Carrying on the stirling work of the like of Haymans 1850 and Citadelle Reserve, Master of Malt also released a cask-aged gin, marrying the two aspects of gin and wood rather well. This method of flavouring gin also has growing popularity in the US. Of course, it is worth noting that Seagram’s Extra Dry Gin (the best selling gin in the US) is rested in wood before bottling.

Nose: Very pleasant: some spicy elements that remind me of cinnamon swirls are accompanied by both a little sweetness and some dry juniper and citrus.
Taste: Soft to start, with an initial sweetness that’s followed by an oaky vanilla note that reminds me a lot of whiskey. This is very, very flavourful, with some darker woody notes in the middle. The finish is very dry, with a hint of black liquorice, some warmth from the alcohol and a touch of spice.

So that wraps up a year of creations by Master of Malt – who knows what 2013 will bring?

Cocktails with… TUB Gin from Colorado, USA

TUB Gin hails from the US state of Colorado, which is something of a hotspot for American small-batch distillation with the likes of Leopolds, CapRock and Roundhouse all hailing from the state.

Made from grain alcohol, it contains the following botanicals:

Orris Root

TUB Gin is bottled at 40% ABV.

The Taste

Nose: Juniper and creamy citrus, followed by some fresh fruit flesh like cut apples.
Taste: Floral citrus notes with a creamy quality were followed by a piney, creamy juniper towards the end. There was a fair bit of liquorice, too, which added some sweetness. Towards the end, there was some peppery heat to it.

Gin & Tonic
This was a floral and very citrusy G&T with just a hint of bitterness at the end. It also had some perfumed pine elements, reminding me a little of a Xoriguer Gin & Tonic. Very refreshing.

Rather nice, sweet citrus and coriander comes through more than juniper but the pine is still there. Pleasant and very crisp.

In Conclusion
Citrus and floral notes are the order of the day with TUB gin; it is also quite intense and definitely full of flavour. As noted before, it reminds me a little of Xoriguer Gin. Given this and the sweetness from the liquorice, it is slightly reminiscent of what some folks argue Old Tom Gin tastes like.

Special thanks to Seva for his help with this article.

Cocktails with.. Ransom Old Tom Gin

I first came across Ransom Old Tom Gin at our Old Tom Gin Tasting last year where it really stood apart from the other gins.

It’s made in Sheridan, Oregon, where it was created to be a historically accurate revival of the predominant style of gin drunk during the Golden Age of American mixed drinks. The spirit was developed in collaboration with the drinks sage David Wondrich.

There is a genever character to this gin, which probably comes from the use of malted barley and high-strength corn spirit in the base wort (the liquid in which the botanicals are infused). Only the heart of the final distillation from an alambic pot still is retained for bottling. Finally, the gin is aged in neutral Pinot Noir barrels.

1) Own
Nose: Pine, sap, a hint of cedarwood and cardamon.
Taste: There was a little smooth silkiness at the start, followed by sappy, piney juniper, some vanilla and oak. There were herbal hints, too, and a little tingle towards the end. The wood comes through again, very much like freshly cut wood, rather natural and forest-like. As gin goes, it is really rather good and completely unique.

2) Gin & Tonic
Fresh and flavourful, with some extra piney bitterness and then some oak-y vanilla at the end, which rounds the drink off nicely.

3) Dry Martini
[50ml Ransom Old Tom, 10ml Dry Vermouth – STIR]
A light gold in colour and quite thick in terms of texture, this had lots of rich, piney, sappy juniper notes, alongside some coriander and an oat-y, bitter note intermingled with vanilla. This was a very different type of Dry Martini, being far more herbal and quite intense.

4) Sweet Martini
[50ml Ransom Old Tom, 10ml Red Vermouth – STIR]
The more bitter notes of this gin really come through well in this cocktail; it had a hint of gentian and wormwood. Despite being a very bitter drink, I did manage to find a subtle floral sweetness towards the end. Overall, quite complex.

5) Negroni
[30ml Ransom Old Tom, 30ml Red Vermouth, 30ml Campari – STIR]
I thought this would work well and it does. I tend to find that more intense red vermouths best in Negronis, but, when using the more complex Ransom Old Tom, Martini Rosso does a pretty good job. This Negroni has strong, intense, hard-hitting juniper and herbal notes with some woodiness, too. If you like Negronis, I think you’ll be a fan of this.

6) Old Tom Cocktail
[50ml Ransom Old Tom, 10ml Pastis, 1/4tsp Sugar, 1 Dash Orange bitters – SHAKE]
Delicious the anise in the pastis works well with the complex herbal and woody notes of the gin. It’s almost as if the gin was made for this drink. a really harmony of flavour.

7) Union League
[50ml Ransom Old Tom, 20ml Port, 1 Dash Orange bitters – STIR]
Really rather tasty; there’s lots going on, including some bitter herbal and pine notes, followed by some oakiness and the the strong, rich flavours of the port. On the finish is a sappy juniper and the citrus of the orange bitters. This is a drink of phases, but very pleasant, too.

For details of Ransom Old Tom Gin in the UK contact Michael Vachon from Ginuine Spirits.

To find stockist of ransom Old Tom Gin in the US & Canada check out:

Cocktails with… Boord’ s Old Tom Gin

I first tried Boord’s Old Tom Gin before the modern renaissance of the spirit which was kick-started by Hayman’s releasing and Old Tom Gin some years back. Having done some elementary research on gin, I remember being suprised at the time that there was still Old Tom Gin available but I was a little dissapointed when I tried it as it seemed to taste like ordinary dry gin.

Half a decade and 200 different gins later I decided to revisit the gin to review. Whilst performing some research before our tasting of 10 Old Tom Gins I had a conversation with the production manager of Boord’s in Missouri, USA. He told me that their “Old Tom” is just part of the branding (matching their cat and barrel logo) and that is not a reflection of the style of gin in the bottle.* Currently Boord’s two strengths of “Old Tom” Gin and another Extra Dry Gin. They did once make a Golden Gin that was sweetened with sugar and bottled at 50%ABV but it has now been discontinued.

On with the tasting.

nose: juniper, coriander, citrus
taste: slight sweetness initally, then some burn then very strong flavours of juniper and realtively weaker cirtus, coriander and angelica. One taster commented that it had some similarities in character to Tanqueray and Plymouth.

Gin & Tonic
Quite powerful with a kick. Juniper and some citrus; quite nice but a touch cloying, this could be solved by using another tonic water. This drink was very, very dry at the end.

Full of flavour and rather bold. Quite dry with juniper and a biter of spice. Some slightly maltiness and some sake like quality. Unusual hearty and although it doesn’t have the smooth, clean crispnessof a typical Martini I quite liked it.

*To be clear Boord’s Old Tom is not, nor do Boord’s claim that is, a gin in the Old Tom Style.

Cocktails with… Wray & Nephew Old Tom Gin

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.




The Taste

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.

3) Martini

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.

In Conclusion
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

Old Tom Gin Tasting – 10 Varieties Compared

This is the first installment to what I hope will be a continuous series entitled “Raiders of the Lost Cocktail Cabinet”, in which I will look at drinks ingredients that feature in vintage cocktail books (pre-1950), but that have since become defunct or obsolete, meaning that a true recreation of some cocktail was especially difficult.Luckily, over the recent years, there have been a growing number of innovative folks who have set about trying to recreate some of these long-lost ingredients, either using inspiration from old recipes or by backwards-engineering remaining artifacts of the products.This week we shall look at Old Tom Gin. I remember, when I first became enthusiastic about gin, I heard about Old Tom, but never tried it. The first one I ever tried was Boords (when I was in the excellent Bramble Bar in Edinburgh) and I recall being disappointed, thinking that it just tasted like normal gin.* Since then, things have changed a lot and there are many more Old Tom Gins on the market.

There is a lot of discussion about what Old Tom Gin was like and why it came about; one theory is that it was a sweetened gin and that this was partly done to disguise the taste of the gin (that was less-refined when compared to today’s standards). The fact that a lot of gin would have been stored in barrels for shipping and sale also would have meant that the wood would also have added some flavour.

It would be easy to write several articles on the origins and history of Old Tom, but as I don’t really think I have anything to add to the already excellent works out there, I shall merely say that Old Tom Gin originated during the 18th century and was available until the 1960s; it’s quite possible that Gordon’s was one of the last producers.

The focus of this article is taste. With the help of Kamil of the Graphic Bar and my friend & colleague, Mr. Clayton Hartley, we gathered 10 varieties of Old Tom Gin for us to taste. Also on our panel were: the illustrious Mrs B, Mr Adam Smithson and Master Distiller of Beefeater, Mr. Desmond Payne.

L-R:Haymans Old Tom, Home-made BAtch#2, Secret Treasures 2007 Old Tom Gin, Home-made Batch #3, Boths Old Tom Gin.

The Old Tom Gins were all tasted neat and at room temperature.

#1 Xoriguer (38%ABV)
A gin from Menorca with geographic protection and can only be made in the Port of Mahon on the island.

Nose: A fair amount of juniper, with strong floral notes, including grapeflower. Reminded some of the panel of pines and a forest.
Taste: This had a very complex start: the flavours were intense and then diminished over time in a diminuendo of flavour. Soft and silky, rich in juniper and very floral; not too sweet and had a faint, and not unpleasant, hint of soap. Well-liked by the panel.

It was suggested that this was one of the closest to Old Tom Gin and that, with a little extra sweetness and a touch more oakiness, it would be almost spot-on. With this in mind, I exposed a small batch of Xoriguer to half a dozen oak chips for 8 hours and added a touch of sugar syrup. The resultant light-golden coloured liquid emphasises the floral notes of the gin and a touch of vanilla was added from the oak, along with a smidgen more sweetness on the palette. Maybe this is pretty close? Who knows?

£21.40 for 70cl from The Whisky Exchange

#2 Both’s Old Tom Gin (47%ABV)
Both’s Old Tom Gin is made by The Both’s Distillery (founded 1886) for Haromex of Germany and bottled at 47%ABV it was the strongest proof we tried. It was designed to reflect the Old Tom Gin of the 19th century for use in cocktails such as the Martinez. The label, reminiscent of fuzzy 70s wallpaper in texture, looks to have been inspired by the label of Booth’s Old Tom Gin (discontinued), this gives the packaging a nice historical edge.

Nose: citrus with herbal undertones
Taste: sweet citrus and juniper, some fennel and anise too. Reminds we of local herb liqueurs of mountainous Europe. Very silky and very pleasant to drink
I really liked this as did most of the panel although most felt it improved slightly when cut with a little water as at 47% it was a touch over-powering, even so, very good indeed.

#3 Home-made Batch #2
Firstly batch #1 was a small test batch and so there wasn’t enough for this tasting. This is based on a recipe by David Wondrich which uses a blend of gin, whisky and sugar. I decided to use the roughest gin I could find (ironically this is made by the same distillery that make my all-time favourite gin) with reference to theory of the sugar being there to make the spirit more palatable.

Nose: Fruity, sweet a bit like fruit chewing gum.
Taste: A bit to sweet for most peoples palettes, but this is something that can be rectified. some berry elements and a final flavour of Barley Sugar.

#4 Ransom Old Tom Gin (44%ABV)
Made by Ransom Spirits of Oregon, USA. It is described as an historic recreation of the type of Gin that was in fashion during the mid 1800s in America. The recipe for Ransom Old Tom Gin was developed in collaboration with David Wondrich.

Nose: Very strong nose, juniper and herbs a bit like the 1812 Gin Liqueur or Ginger Wine..
Taste: This didn’t taste like any of the others we tried, it was very bitter and although not to my taste it was liked by quite of few of the panel members, including my wife. There were some hints of dried fruits, such as Papaya as well as some complex herbal notes.

Even though this is not like the other Old Toms we liked it was antique cocktails and it could make a pronounced difference in cocktails, it’s not going to be to every-one’s taste  but those that do like it will love it.

Ransom retails for around $36 for a bottle but is not currently available in the UK.

#5 Secret Treasures 2007 (40%ABV)
This is specifically described as an “Old Tom Style” Gin and is part of Haromex‘s Secret Treasures Collection, Germany and was created by created by Master Blender, Hubertus Vallendar in Kail. The bottle we tried was one of 688 produced in 2007. It uses a double distillation process and the Juniper come from the Apennines.

Nose: soft with some juniper and floral notes, sweet elements too.
Taste: a very fresh beginning like cucumber, in particular cucumber skin. A hint of sweetness but the gin remains quite dry, some pine and a little oakiness at the end.

If you tend to find many Old Toms a bit too sweet, this is worth a try.

#6 Home-made Batch #3 (Oaked)
Made in the same way as Batch#2 but this was put in a jam jar with a few whisky barrel chippings for 24 hours.

Nose: liquorice ice-cream, caramel and onion skin.
Taste: Much better than Batch#2 the oak has mellowed out the rough edges of the gin. This was pleasant enough with hint of vanilla and caramel but sadly not much juniper. On the upside it was smooth and easy enough to drink but on the downside it was not very gin-like and it was a bit sweet.

I think recipe is a pretty good representation and can give some really good results, but like any recipe the end product is only as good as it’s ingredients also I think I made it too sweet.

L-R: Dorchester Old Tom Gin (2007), Ransom Old Tom, Xoriguer Gin, Jensens Old Tom Gin

#7 Jensen Old Tom Gin (43%ABV)
From the creator of the Bermondsey Gin, this Old Tom is based on an original recipe dating back to the 1840s. Jensen’s take the view that Old Tom was sweeter, in order to hide impurities in the gin, but they suggest that this sweetness came from a more intense botanical mix rather than adding sugar (the cost of sugar being prohibitively high).

Nose: juniper and heavy spice on the nose, one panellist said it reminded them of a glue stick, but not in a negative way. Complex with quite a bit of depth.
Taste: Not very sweet and a lot of the elements of the nose come out in the taste, pine and strong herbal elements, there finish is reminiscent of liquorice powder and this is where any sweetness comes from. Definitely distinctive from the other we tried, it rather split the opinion of the group.

£24.50 for 70cl from The Whisky Exchange

#8 The Dorchester Old Tom Gin 2007 (40%ABV)
This is made exclusively for The Dorchester Hotel, London by William Grants, the folks behind Hendrick’s Gin. I gather it was created to enable the barmen to authentically recreate some of the truly classic cocktails. I don’t how many runs there have been but I have only ever seen the 2007 bottling.

Nose: delicate and fragrant. Hints of rose and sandalwood, undoubtedly perfume-like.
Taste: sweet but not without dryness, the gin also had some floral notes. It was silky and smooth with hints of lavender and violet, some panel member were reminded of coniferous forests but all agreed it was very good, well balanced with a real depth of character.

The Dorchester Old Tom Gin is available for around £70 for 70cl from The Dorchester Hotel shop.

#9 Hayman’s Old Tom Gin
This was one the first of the new recreations of Old Tom Gin it is lightly sweetened and botanically intensive and is based on an historic recipe from James Borough the ancestor of current Master Distiller of Haymans, Christopher Hayman.

Nose: good solid juniper nose, a little sweet citrus, like Orange cremes.
Taste: very clearly gin, with slightly more intense flavour and an added sweetness. A very neat product and quite easy to drink. IF you see Old Tom as sweetened gin with a little more bang from the botanicals this would be a good choice. Very good indeed.

£19.90 for 70cl from The Whisky Exchange

#10 Artisan Bar at The Langham Hotel
This is a blend of two mystery gins and some nuts and is then aged in a barrel.
Nose: Very interesting, notes of tea, toffee, dark chocolate and fresh Bran flakes.
Taste: Very complex with a bitter-sweet start. Dryness to start and then some sweet nuttiness such as hazelnut and just a hint of walnut. A rather tannin like finish, such as you might get from a tea liqueur. A complex and flavourful variety that was a treat to try.
All the panel enjoyed the taste of this variety but one downside was that it wasn’t especially characteristic of gin.

It seems that the Old Toms fell, generally, into two categories: those that were more botanically intense and also sweet (Hayman’s, Dorchester, Both’s and The Home-mades), and those that were just more botanically intense (Jensen, Ransom, Secret Treasures). It also seems that it was the former category that was more popular with the panel.


#1) The Dorchester Old Tom

#2) Xoriguer Mahon Gin

#3) Both’s Old Tom

#4) Hayman’s Old Tom

#5) Langham Hotel Old Tom

However both The Dorchester and Both’s Old Tom are currently very tricky to get hold of in the UK and so as a starter Old Tom to try out a few vintage cocktails with I would suggest giving Hayman’s a try, also being around the £20 mark it’s not too expensive to experiment with.

In conclusion, for a little while I have suspected that there may not be one single description of an “Old Tom Gin” and that at different times and in different places it meant something different. Looking at the variety of characteristics of the brands we have tried and the authenticity of the methods used to create them, I think this surely must be the case.

Xoriguer was a really interesting find and I think that using it as an Old Tom (particularly if it has been slightly sugared and oaked) has a lot of potential and deserves further research.
*Following a conversation with the Production Manager at Boord’s plant in the USA, it turns out that my view was vindicated, as Boord’s Old Tom is just a normal compound gin, perfectly respectable in it’s own right, but not designed, marketed or considered (in the slightest) as a gin in the Old Tom Style; Old Tom is just their name. This is a similar situation to Wray & Nephew’s Old Tom gin.

A Special Thanks To:

James Hayman for providing us with a sample and the excellent picture of Gordon’s Old Tom, Chris Seale of Speciality drinks, Blue Island Ltd., Harald of Haromex, Kamil and the folks at Graphic bar, Mr. Clayton Hartley, Desmond Payne of Beefeater and of course, the lovely Mrs. B.

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Update Bonus Old Tom Tasting Notes

Sounds Spirits Old Tom Gin (40.0% ABV)
Made by Sound Spirits of Seattle, Washington which holds the moniker of being Seattle’s first distillery since prohibition. Their old tom gin is rested on oak chips for about a month; it uses less juniper and more spice than the distillery’s Ebb and Flow dry gin.
Color: Very light yellow
Nose: Warm citrus, lemon, lime and orange, with complex spiced notes
Taste: A good spiciness up front, nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger followed by some citrus and juniper, then coriander and finally some dry floral notes on a long finish.

Spring 44 (44.0% ABV)
Made in Loveland, Colorado this old tom gin contains a mix of 7 botanicals: juniper, coriander seed, orris root, lemongrass, rosemary, galangal root and pink grapefruit peel. The gin is aged in new, toasted, not charred, American oak barrels for 6 months to add a little warmth.
Nose: Very strong juniper – pine, but with an intriguing vegetal note alongside it and a sweetness, too, like celery with hints of sweet licorice powder.
Taste: The same vegetal notes from the nose come through on the taste, with a combination of savory, sour and bitter notes, including celery. The finish is slightly sweet, like licorice sticks, with more straightforward notes of piney juniper at the very end.

Downslope Ould Tom Gin (42.5 %ABV)
Made by Downslope Distillers near Denver, Colorado it is designed as an interpretation of a late 1800s style gin. It contains a mix of seven botanicals and is aged in wood for a number of months.
Color: Golden orange.
Nose: Some dry cider apple notes and then some bready maltiness.
Taste: A good full texture, some ripe apple to start followed by some sweet herbal notes, cinnamon and nutmeg. Reminiscent of a spiced baked apple. This is followed by a little maltiness and then some dry citrus, juniper and a hint of chocolate. A very complex example of Ould Tom Gin, as sippable as a malt whisky.

Goldencock Gin (38.0% ABV)
Dating from 1936 and made in Norway by Arcus, Goldencock is the only old tom gin that still exists from the time before most brands stopped producing it. Given that it is not exported from Norway, it remained largely unknown for decades, with only scant reference in some books.
Nose: Juniper, coriander, citrus sweetness
Taste: Strong and intense flavor with herbal notes up-front, rosemary thyme and a hint of mint followed by some juniper pine. This is followed by a little sweet spice, lots of licorice and then a dry citrus finish.

Hammer & Sons Old English Gin (44.0% ABV)
Made at the Langley distillery in the oldest gin still in the UK, with a recipe dating from 1783. The gin contains a mix of 11 botanicals (juniper, coriander, angelica, lemon, orange, orris, cardamom, cassia, licorice, cinnamon, and nutmeg) and 4 grams of sugar per liter. The gin is unusually packaged in reused champagne bottles with a silkscreen print.
Nose: Vibrant, sweet lemon and vanilla, like lemon cheesecake, with a little soapy coriander, before returning to a fresher, lemon note.
Taste: Very smooth, with a hint of sweetness to start that is quickly outshone by strong notes of juniper, lemongrass, and coriander. The finish is of soapy coriander, juniper, and a dry note like wood crossed with soda water.