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Old Tom Gin
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All about Old Tom Gin
What is Old Tom Gin?
Its folksy name notwithstanding, Old Tom Gin is certainly still gin: this resurrected 19th-century style still hinges on gin’s classic element of citrusy, piney, refreshing juniper. It differs in that it’s noticeably sweeter than your standard dry gin. Beyond that unifying trait, the rulebook plays second fiddle to the distiller’s imagination with regard to recipes, aging options and especially botanical blends. Old Tom Gin invites experimentation from producer, mixologist, and drinker.
How is Old Tom Gin made?
Most distillers use a blend of cereal grains like malted barley, wheat, and corn for Old Tom. They ferment and distill these grains to create the initial strong spirit, which isn’t particularly exciting. It’ll need another distillation with botanicals to get all those distinct gin flavors.
Old Tom botanical and aging variation
What to use? Some keep it simple with old standards like juniper and lemon zest, but you’ll find brands employing a real who’s-who of the spice rack - think cinnamon, cardamom, and even star anise to name a few. Botanicals have a massive impact on flavor and will be subject to your tastes as well as the producer’s. For that signature Old Tom sweetness, distillers can “backsweeten” with sugar, honey or even stevia. Finally, some producers add complexity by aging their gin in oak barrels. Aging in oak can add color, wood flavor, and sweetness reminiscent of whisky. Variety in production processes means that you can choose an Old Tom that is clear and reminiscent of juniper and lemon zest or one that’s golden brown with notes of cinnamon, cardamom and wood. Be sure to read the bottle!
Pairing and drinking Old Tom Gin
Old Tom’s sweetness pairs well with seafood like oysters and fish stews, where it’s a good complement to fishy salinity. You’ll enjoy it straight or blended into your favorite sparkling water (in lieu of tonic!), but Old Tom has always been a cocktail fave, where its possibilities are endless. Its sweetness plays beautifully with vermouth/fruit juice cocktails, and it adds real herbal complexity to an Old Fashioned. Again: endless cocktail possibilities.
Who was Old Tom? Bartender? Charismatic distillery cat? We don’t really know. We do know he was once a cocktail spirit of choice, Prohibition briefly ended Old Tom’s existence. A cocktail revolution brought him roaring back so check here to see how he can add spice to your life! Curious if Driz has made it to your city? Click these links to search for Drizly in your city, and look for Drizly’s partner liquor stores near you.