Created in England during the 1700’s, Old Tom is a sweeter style of gin bridging the gap between Dutch Genever and London Dry. Supposedly this was originally to disguise a poor distillation. In fact, many bottom shelf spirits still add sugar and caramel flavoring to hide a low quality product. Which is why the Old Tom style faded away as distillers realized that customers wanted better spirits.
As to why it is called Old Tom, it apparently has to do with pub signs that had the image of a black cat on them. Interesting, since the black cat is thought to be a harbinger of bad luck. Old Tom is also called for in the 1891 classic cocktail guide The Flowing Bowl: When and What to Drink. What is the drink? The Tom Collins, of course!
Tanqueray Old Tom Gin (80 proof)
Nose: Immediate juniper nose with fresh cracked pepper, citrus peel and cucumber. There’s also a slight flowery scent reminiscent of a florist shoppe.
Taste: Quite sweet, but tempered by a hefty dose of bright and bracing juniper. Definitely leaning towards a simple syrup kind of sweetness.
Finish: Long notes of barley sugar overshadow any herbal or spice notes. Interestingly, you can still detect the overall flavor profile of Tanqueray.
Overall: Less malty than a Genever, but certainly way more sugary than a London dry style. I’d suggest using this in cocktails that call for very little in the way of liqueurs or juice based modifiers. It’s tasty, but the sweetness almost seems overwhelming. I think a bit of barrel aging would add just the right touch of tannins to balance it out a bit.
GSN Rating: B+
For more information go to: Tanqueray