Buy Jensen’s Old Tom Gin ~ £24
70cl / 43%
This Old Tom is a product from Christian Jensen, who originally set out to recreate a traditional style of London Dry gin. He had through his work abroad in Japan had the opportunity to taste a range of older gins, some from the 1940’s and earlier. A challenge was set by the bartender that Christian should make his own gin in the older style, and he took a sample of an old gin to Thames Distillers. Following many recipes with their master distiller they agreed on a recipe and the resultant London Dry Gin was named Jensen’s London-Distilled Dry Bermondsey Gin
Following the success of his Jensen’s Bermondsey gin he turned his attention to the precurser of London Dry gin, the Old Tom style which was around before the process of gin production had been refined.
Most people will refer to Old Tom as a ‘sweetened’ gin, and some on the market will contain 3-5% of sugar, certainly sugar was used to sweeten old toms but that practice only really occurred when sugar prices got cheap. Originally the gin was naturally sweetened (or in reality its flavours were masked) by choosing to use greater quantities of botanicals to help remove the flavours provided by the impurities in the gin.
This Old Tom is based on a recipe from the 1840s and has again been produced by Thames Distillers, it is an old tom in the botanical style containing no extra sugar. Instead a rich set of botanicals provide all the flavour to the gin. The exact mix of botanicals is not public knowledge, but there is definitely juniper, coriander, orris root, angelica and liquorice , I’d take a stab in the dark and presume there is a lot more liquorice in this botanical mix than you would use in a London Dry; as it can provide sweet notes to the gin.
It tastes quite unlike other Old Toms I’ve tried in the fact that it has quite an overpowering taste at room temperature, it’s certainly not what you would call sugar sweet. The botanicals provide a real intense flavour, which is packed full of juniper and citrus, the sweetness does follow.
When tasted at a blind tasting next to a sugar sweetened Old Tom, most people seemed to prefer the other old tom on offer. Though for cocktails that call for an Old Tom style of gin, such as the Martinez and the Tom Collins the flavour profile of this gin really lends extra character to the drink.
It depends what you are looking for in your gin, but for me I love the depth of flavour that the Jensen’s Old Tom provides to my drinks and its certainly in the ‘to buy again’ list. I can remember my first taste of it back at Rules when Brian made me his Charles II, and I know that without this gin it would taste so different. If you do own an Old Tom already, do consider getting this as well – it’s not as if you have more than one London Dry in your cabinet already right?