Posted by Arctic Wolf on October 20, 2013
It is that time of year again when I present my annual Rum Howler Awards where I recognize the best spirits which I have had the pleasure of sampling over the past two years. You see, I save my sample bottles after writing my reviews, and have a fun little tasting competition (usually with a few friends to help me). The aim is to determine which spirits are truly the best. My gin tastings were completed a few weeks ago, and I have complied the results for The 2013 Rum Howler Awards – The Year in Gin.
This has been a good year for Gin. The Spirit has become more than just a base for Gin and Tonics and Martinis; it has become part of the cocktail revolution which is underway on both sides of the Atlantic (and threatening to cross the Pacific as well.) In fact, it could be said that walking side by side with the Cocktail Revolution is a new Gin Revolution. While London Dry Gin still dominates the landscape of juniper, we are at the forefront of the development of new variations upon the pinene theme. I see varieties of gin aged in oak (see review here); I see specialized flavoured gins (see review here); and I see distillers experimenting with local botanicals and spices in an effort to bring new taste profiles forward (see review here). We are even witnessing the resurrection of an heretofore almost forgotten styles of gin (see review here).
This year, I invited one of my gin loving friends to help me in the judging process which occurred during two lazy Sundays in September. Each spirit was served in three cocktails (Grange Cocktail, Gin and Tonic, and a Dry Gin Martini) as well as served neat with no ice.
And without further ado, it is time for me to reveal the recipients of my 2013 Rum Howler Awards for Excellence in the Production of Gin. These Awards are for the best Gin Spirits, I encountered in the year 2013:
(Use the above link to find the Awards Page.)
Posted in Awards, Extras, Gin | Tagged: 2013, Aged Gin, Flavoured Gin, Gin, London Dry Gin, Old Tom Gin, Rum Howler Awards | Comments Off
Posted by Arctic Wolf on August 6, 2013
Old Tom Gin represents a style of gin which was popular in 18th Century England prior to the introduction of London Dry Gin. According to gin lore, Old Tom Gin derived its name from Captain Dudley Bradstreet who in the early 1700′s purchased property in London which had a good amount of gin on the premises. He set a picture of a “tom cat” upon the window facing outside and allowed word to be spread that gin was available at the establishment with the cat in the window. A passerby who wanted a shot of gin would place a penny in a slot in the wall under the windowed cat which would roll into the establishment signalling the bartender inside to pour out a shot of gin which would be funneled into a tube running through the wall. The passerby would either drink it directly from the tube or collect it to consume later. Apparently this practice spread throughout London, and gin generically became know as that ‘Old Tom’ Gin in reference to the Tom Cat which signaled the presence of gin within an establishment.
Hayman’s Old Tom Gin is apparently produced from an old English recipe which can be traced to the 18th century. The style of this gin is softer and sweeter than the more typical London Dry Gin. Part of the reason for this is that the gin is lightly sweetened (which in 18th Century England was probably done to mask the taste of impurities as distillation was in its early days of refinement). When the Coffey still was introduced, a better quality of spirit became more readily available which did not need to be sweetened and the resulting style of London Dry Gin replaced Old Tom Gin as the industry standard. However many old cocktail books from the 19th century still refer to Old Tom Gin in their recipes. The recent cocktail renaissance has led to a demand for this older style of gin.
Note: According to their website, Hayman Distillers is the longest serving family owned gin distiller in England today. Their Old Tom Gin has recently arrived in the Alberta market imported by Lifford Spirits who provided me with a bottle to review upon my website.
You may read my full review by Clicking the following excerpt (link):
“… The initial breezes above the glass also reflect this sweetness as the resulting aroma has a pleasant sweetness with effervescent citrus notes underlying a soft but firm juniper presence. If you take time with the glass it is possible to catch glimpses of orange peel, lilacs, hints of anise and a soft earthiness …”
Please enjoy the review and the cocktails which follow, the Martinez, and my recipe, Sunshine Days.
Posted in Cocktails & Recipes, Gin, Gin Review | Tagged: Gin Review, Hayman's, Martinez, Old Tom Gin, Uncle Tom's Cabin | Comments Off