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Old Tom Gin

9 Item(s)

  • Langleys Old Tom Gin 40% 70cl
    Langley Old Tom has a rich and rounded taste with light sweetness. More intensely botanical than the London dry styles, with a distinguished character.
  • Old Tom Gin Poetic License 41.6% 70cl
    This classic originating from the mid-1800s delivers a sweeter and more peppery taste in comparison with our Dry Gin. From the botanicals alone we nurture its sweet taste, while our oak casks continue to add flavour and colour. The inclusion of rose petals infuses a distinct character to the swee...
  • Gin Lane 1751 Old Tom Gin Small Batch 40% 70cl
    Old Tom is a sweeter style of Gin which was popular in Victorian time but fell out of favour until recently. It is made from 8 botanicals Cassia Bark, Angelica, Sicilian Lemon, Coriander, Orris root, Sevilla Orange, Juniper and Star Anise with the addition of natural sugars . Distilled at Thames ...
  • Herno Old Tom Gin 43% 50cl
    Herno Gin is made by Jon Hillgren in a small village called Dala just outside the City of Hrnsand in ngermanland, Sweden. This is Sweden's first dedicated Gin distillery which is made in two hand-beaten copper stills, Kerstin and Marit. Using the recipe grate recipe as the Herno Swedish Ex...
  • Two Birds Old Tom Gin 40% 70cl
    A traditional style gin the predates London Dry and was very popular in the 18th & 19th Century. Like all great gins this Old Tom (40%) style it's bursting with lovely pine and juniper aromas and is slightly sweetened with liquorice and number of other botanicals. Best serve: 50ml measure, mi...
  • Two Birds Old Tom Gin 20cl
    Tasting notes to follow
  • Citadelle Extremes No.1 No Mistake Old Tom Gin 46% 70cl
    This Old Tom style gin has been recreated by Alexandre Gabriels and uses caramalised Caribbean brown sugar which is then added to Citadelle Reserve which is then aged further in barrels. This sweetness enhances the floral aromas and vanilla notes, leading a fresh juicy finish with some spice.
  • Haymans Old Tom Gin 40% 70cl
    The British spirits company, Hayman Distillers, has dusted off an old family recipe for Old Tom, and the vintage gin is now being brought on the UK Market. The name "Old Tom Gin" purportedly came from wooden plaques shaped like a black cat (an "Old Tom") mounted...

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Old Tom gin is deeply rooted in the spirit’s history and was hugely popular in the 18th and 19th centuries; it's enjoying something of a resurgence today despite falling out of favour around the 1940’s. With a sweeter style than a classic London Dry, Old Tom gin is more appealing to those who are turned off by the overt dryness of many popular gins. It also serves as a middle ground between the London Dry style gins and the much sweeter Dutch Jenever from which all gins originated.

Gin was a fundamental problem for the country before stringent regulations were enforced regarding its distillation and sale. The general populace was stricken with serious alcoholism and terminal ailments caused by the mass consumption of backstreet gin that was often cut with lethal doses of sulphuric acid and turps. This chaotic time is perfectly encapsulated in William Hogarth’s famous Gin Lane drawing, depicting the pandemonium that was an everyday occurrence on Britain’s streets.

Despite the clear negative health implications, the English were determined to get their gin fix come what may and started adding sugar and liquorice to the poorer quality gins to make them more palatable. This was how the Old Tom style of gin was born and it remained popular through the Gin Palace era where is was used in popular cocktails of the time.

As technology progressed and distillation methods improved as a result, Old Tom gin’s popularity started to decline. After the invention of the continuous still, better quality and safer spirits were being distilled and the trend moved towards using botanicals to provide flavour. This in turn lead to tastes moving to the London Dry style of gin that remains fashionable to this day. By the 1970’s Old Tom Gin was no longer being produced.

It wasn’t until the cocktail revival of recent times that Old Tom gin was once again required. As bartenders dusted off their classic cocktail guides, it was soon realised that a core component of many drinks was no longer being made and where there is demand, supply soon follows. Brands with a rich history in gin distillation took notice and Hayman’s released their Old Tom gin in 2007 after scouring their archives for old recipes to bring back to life. New and contemporary distilleries, like the highly awarded Herno, got in on the act with each producing their own take on the Old Tom style.

So where did the connection between our feline friends and Old Tom come from? That is a question to which there is no definitive answer as there are many theories on how this style of gin got its name.

Should we believe that it was derived from one of Captain Dudley Bradstreet’s many money-making schemes where he operated a one stop gin shop to avoid the restrictions placed upon sellers in the Gin Act of 1736? He barricaded himself inside a small building and hung a sign outside displaying an old tom cat. Drinkers would place a coin in a slot and gin would be dispensed through a pipe through the wall to the desperate masses. The pipes outlet was shaped like a cat’s paw and the idea was soon ripped off by every shady gin seller out there. These operations became to be known as Puss & Mew shops.

Maybe it comes from the story where a tom cat fell into a vat of gin, obviously expiring in the process. Cats were often depicted on bottles and barrels and Boord’s of London, a hugely popular brand of gin at the time, registered this as their trademark. Many other distillers followed suite, leading to legal battles over the branding used on many gins of the time.

One other theory is that it is the namesake of Thomas Chamberlain, a reputable distiller at Hodge's Distillery who took on an eager apprentice named Thomas Norris. Chamberlain referred to his apprentice affectionately as ‘young Tom’, and when his apprenticeship was completed Norris opened a gin palace in London. He referred to his gin as ‘Old Tom’ out of respect for his teacher and barrels that were branded as such were known to be superior quality spirits.