Anyone that follows me on social media might have seen that I basically stalk the Mackintosh gin family. I’m worming my way in to be an adopted daughter even though my hair isn’t nearly long enough or bright enough. They kindly sent me a bottle of their original gin back in May 2019, then I loved them so much I bought a bottle of their newly-launched navy strength gin in April. Due to lockdown my lack of commuting has given my bank balance a boost and I’ve been bored and FOMO kicked in so I just got myself a bottle of their Old Tom gin. Launched at the same time as the navy strength, I was unsure of the Old Tom – which is a style we all know I love – because it’s pineapple and grapefruit. I worry about pineapple in gin. It shouldn’t be on pizza and I don’t think it should be in my gin. Obviously Old Tom style gins are usually sweeter, and they add candy syrup between distillation and bottling along with the fresh pineapple. They say this is still juniper led with locally foraged elderflower, like their other gins, with a strong citrus burst.
I met the team from Bullards gin at Junipalooza and was able to give their range a try (I would like to give a shout out to their strawberry and black pepper gin which I thought I would hate but actually quite enjoyed). I’ve now got myself a bottle of their Old Tom gin – a style of gin you should all know I enjoy – which also won best Old Tom style gin at the 2019 Gin Guide Awards (as a distillery they won five awards plus Distillery of the Year). They use ten botanicals in their Old Tom gin including honey which is contrasted by mango and pink peppercorns. That’s a lot of flavour for a gin that is usually defined by it’s sweetness; by the sounds of it, the sweetness will be less synthetic than some sugary gins. Bullards were (that I’ve seen) one of the first brands to introduce refill packs, theirs fit through a normal letterbox and are 70cl so you can reuse your bottle then pop the empty pouch into a postbox and the distillery recycle them. This saves you money and is a much greener option – we all know bottles are recyclable but they also take a lot of energy to make and transport around.
Back in June when I went to Junipalooza and had the best time, I had a chance to briefly meet York gin. One of those gins that everyone raves about based in, you guessed it, the city of York, they are the only distillery in the city and hand make all of their gins. They have four gins to their name: the London Dry which uses nine botanicals including black pepper, lemon peel and grains of paradise and this year won silver at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition; the Roman Fruit inspired by their Roman ancestors which is infused with apples, berries and hibiscus; and the Outlaw gin which pushes the ABV up to 57% and incredibly won a double gold at San Francisco this year which is not an easy thing to do. The fourth gin is the one we are trying today, the Old Tom gin. Now, if you know me, you know I love an Old Tom gin. This is made in collaboration with Michelin starred restaurant Star Inn and uses botanicals foraged from the local area and the restaurant’s garden including the White Rose of Yorkshire, bronze fennel and star anise. So, how does it taste?
We’ve made it to the end of week one, hurrah! Just two and a bit left. Today’s gin is from Rock Rose, a Scottish brand with some beautiful bottles. I’ve tried their original gin a few times out and about, and their Winter gin was included in the 2017 calendar. Made in Dunnet Bay Distillery (who also do a lot of contract distilling) they have three key flavours, plus four seasonal editions. In their main range they have their original gin, a navy strength gin, and today’s drink: the pink grapefruit Old Tom gin. This excites me because I love pink grapefruit, and I love Old Tom gins. As you should know, an Old Tom style gin is traditionally sweeter than normal gin (legend has it that back in the illicit gin trade days, people would add turpentine and such to their mix so would throw in a load of sugar to hide the taste) and the Rock Rose team add muscovado sugar at the end of the process. Before this, they hand peel organic pink grapefruits which are hung in a basket and vapour infused during the distillation. This gin was originally a limited edition run in 2016 during a competition for artists to design them a new label. The demand for this was so high that they went on to tweak the recipe slightly and bring it back in the core offering in 2019. So, let’s give it a try!
You’ll know if you’ve seen Sir Robin of Locksley gin before as it is a fairly lurid green bottle, and today’s gin – their VSOT, a navy strength Old Tom – is a similarly bright blue. Their signature gin is a half way point between an Old Tom and a London Dry style of gin (and was in last year’s Ginvent calendar), aimed to be sipped easily, but this is full Old Tom (the name stands for Very Special Old Tom). Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think I’ve ever come across an navy strength Old Tom before – and in my mind it seems a bit strange. Old Tom gins are traditionally sweeter, and I worry that the 57.5% ABV will knock some of that sweetness out of it.
Note: I was sent a bottle of this to try, but as always, I’ll let you know if I don’t like it.
I am often asked how I got into drinking copious amounts of gin, so today I tell the story. Basically, at my first proper job I was the only one that didn’t drink gin and tonic. So I started drinking gin and lemonade (which I stand by as a drink) but that wasn’t good enough. I just couldn’t get on board with the tonic. Randomly there was an event being hosted by Yelp at a bar in London with Langley’s gin and Fever Tree tonic. So off we went and I discovered a world bigger than Gordon’s gin and Britvic tonic. Since then, Langley’s has always had a place in my heart as I think of it as the first proper gin I tried. So when I was offered a bottle of their Old Tom gin recently, I jumped at the chance. Langley’s was founded in 2011, but it took them until 2013 to get the first bottles of Langley’s No. 8 gin into the market. Since then they have won a plethora of awards and they launched the Old Tom gin in 2016 and First Chapter gin in 2017. If you’ve read my blog before, you’ll know I’m a fan of Old Tom gins and a Tom Collins cocktail, and Langley’s version is based on a recipe from 1891 using eight botanicals with notes of orange, tangerine, fennel and nutmeg.
Note: I love the Hayman’s team. After visiting their distillery and trying all their gin, they kindly sent me some samples.
If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll have read my blog post about Hayman’s London Dry gin. Well, guess what? I have more gin! Today I am trying their Old Tom gin which, as a style, is one of my favourites. You may or may not know but a Tom Collins is one of my favourite drinks. The Hayman’s version of Old Tom gin is heavy on the citrus and juniper to create a rich mouthfeel, which then has an undercurrent of sweetness that lets you know you are drinking an Old Tom rather than London Dry.
So you might have seen my post about the March Craft Gin Club delivery which contained a bottle of Elg No.1 gin – which was very nice FYI. The team at Stone Grange distillery got in touch and offered to let me try the rest of the range. And, because I like gin, I said yes. So today we are trying their No.2 gin which is an Old Tom style gin. It is slightly lower in ABV than their No. 1 gin at 46.3% – which is still going to have quite a kick to it and they suggest drinking it neat (eep!) or with some ginger beer. Their Old Tom has quite a distinctive colour to it – they take their original three botanicals (juniper, coriander seed and carrot for those that missed the last blog) and add an alcohol extract of juniper which gives it the colour and the sweetness. The extract is made by soaking dried juniper berries in pure wheat alcohol for four weeks. FOUR WEEKS. Considering a lot of gin only really takes a few days to make, this is taking the craft to the next level.
This blog is a shout out to one of my favourite gin people – Cherry Constable. Not only is she lovely and super knowledgeable about everything, she also sends me gin in the post, yay! Today we’re talking about Gin Lane 1751, as the name suggests they take inspiration from the Victorian style of gin which favours juniper berries, liquorice and citrus. Their lineup contains four gins – a London dry, the ‘Victoria’ pink, the Old Tom and a 47% Royal Strength. Today we’re drinking the Pink and Old Tom gins. Both 40% ABV, the pink gin follows in the Navy’s footsteps by blending gin with herbal and spiced bitters – a trick that supposedly cured sea sickeness – and the Old Tom which ramps up the star anise and adds a touch of sugar with a softer, sweeter profile. Continue reading
Here we are at day 23 of ginvent and today is a day I am particularly excited for. Today we try the Old Tom gin from Ableforth’s Bathtub gin collection. Ableforth’s Bathtub gin is probably one of the most iconic brands on the market with their distinctive brown paper wrapping, and I’ve tried their traditional version here. I really like Old Tom gins, so this should be a treat, Continue reading