There’s no doubt about it, Tanqueray is one of the most iconic gins of all time. You can spot that beautiful green bottle from the other side of the bar in almost any country in the world and know that you’re within kissing distance of a decent G&T. And while at times legacy can be a burden – after all, how can you keep up with the ever-changing face of gin if you’ve got to stick to a centuries old recipe – for their sister expressions it’s a gift. The brand has always been known for its adventures down the often mad, sometimes weird (and almost always delicious) world of flavoured gins, and it has brought many of these gins back from the depths of their archives over the past few years.
Here, we take a look at the ever-coming releases from the brand, adding more in as they join the ranks.
Tanqueray No. TEN Gin, so named for the still on which it is made, is such a core member of the team that we can hardly believe it hasn’t always been on the scene. It has been around for a wee while, though, having launched in 2000, way ahead of this modern iteration of the Gin craze. The gin is made with fresh, whole citrus fruits, which brings great depth and character.
Indisputably a step up in class, the gin seems smoother than Tanqueray’s classic offering. It has a full-bodied grapefruit and citrus hit to it and when released was highly sort after by bartenders who were keen to work with a gin that had a little something extra about it. It was go-to Martini fodder in a world of standardised spirits, and even though many thousands of gins have come along since, it’s still one that cocktails makers and those in the know keep close to hand.
Taste wise, the big brash citrus has plenty of juniper alongside it, along with a lovely floral note. The finish is smooth, laden with citrus oils, and the high strength (47%) makes it stand up to the loudest of mixers.
Although Tanqueray No. TEN has won numerous gins since its launch, it’s unprecedented win as ‘Best White Spirit’ three times in a row led to the San Francisco World Spirits Competition creating a ‘Hall of Fame’ for the gin to sit in. And that was just three years after its launch! Despite the growth of the category, the gin remains one of the most respected on the market, offering a subtle shift away from tradition and a fantastic body to it, that carries exceptionally well in cocktails.
Liquid aside, with an eye catching bottle that allows for good shelf visibility, as well as global PR campaigns making heroes of the world’s best bartenders, the brand will carry on cementing its place as not only the leader and pioneer of the premium gin category, but as one of the most loved.
So many people assume that Tanqueray Rangpur is a lime-flavoured gin, such a song and dance did Tanqueray make of the fruit when it first launched. It’s a lime featuring gin, sure, but lime doesn’t lead the sole charge here.
Rangpur is a Bengali word, though the limes are fairly prolific across the world. They’re called Canton lemons in South China, hime lemons in Japan, cravo lemons in Brazil and mandarin-limes in the United States. They’re not like other limes in that they combine various citrus elements to hone their own distinct personality. They’re zesty and acidic, but hugely juicier.
When distilled by the Tanqueray team alongside a blend of other classic gin botanicals, the resulting spirit is crisp and punchy, with a sharp citrus edge. Interestingly enough, when we first reviewed it back in 2014 we described it as “a folly of a concept at the base of the Tanqueray estate,” and while we still don’t exactly love it, it’s definitely nowhere near the biggest weirdo at school nowadays.
Best described as a sweetened version of the flagship Tanqueray, Malacca has smooth notes of liquorice and grapefruit alongside a bold and piny juniper. Based on an old Charles Tanqueray recipe from the 1830s, the gin – when reborn in 1990 – was considered to be a great alternative to the Old Toms of yore. At the time, Gin wasn’t anywhere near the monstrous industry that it is today, so if bartenders wanted to mix up a cocktail that called for something a little sweeter, like a Martinez, they were often left wanting.
The juniper is more subdued in Malacca than in Tanqueray Dry Gin, paving the way for a beautiful balance of spice, sweet and a touch of grapefruit. The untrained nose and palate would certainly name an Old Tom, and when categorising it, it’s very close – but this was never labelled as such and Tanqueray released an Old Tom separately, distilled as per their archived recipe and brought that genre back in its own right.
The Malacca eventually ran aground, though it did pop back in 2013 for a brief stint to both love and fury (love in that it was now available once more – fury as old collectors saw the original bottles’s value drop considerably). It’s currently very, very hard to get hold of on these shores, but in what is proving to be a very big 2018 for team Tanqueray, it’s starting to re-emerge in Australia, Canada and the US. Better get that holiday booked, eh?
Tanqueray Old Tom Gin
Launched in the summer of 2014, Tanqueray Old Tom is a recreation of the brand’s original recipe. Instead of a verbatim re-creation, it has been made in an interpretive way in order to better achieve the idea of what the original pre-1920’s Old Tom was about. To do so, the team had to reverse engineer some of the advances in distilling technology that have occurred since.
Tanqueray Old Tom is made using the same four botanicals as the flagship gin, although in different proportions and with an increased dosage. After distillation, a little New Make Spirit (think un-aged whisky spirit) was added to add a grainy note and “dirty up” the spirit to reflect what it would have been like originally (the base alcohol at the time would not have been as neutral as it is today).
The Old Tom Gin is also sweetened with beet sugar. Rather strangely, instead of only using their usual demineralised water to cut the gin to bottling strength – the team also used a different water source to, once again, add a modern interpretation of what the authentic flavours and textures would have been like (in essence, allow for controlled impurities to enter the chain to create true to form flavours).
There were only 100,000 bottles made and the label is an exact replica of one of the last labels found in the Diageo Archive. There’s all of the clear Tanqueray DNA to nose, but it’s the earthy sweetness of the liquorice that’s most distinct. The cereal like quality of the “dirtied spirit” is apparent too, but there’s nothing filthy about it – here it’s biscuity and sweet. To taste, juniper and coriander seed flourish on the mouth as they always do with Tanqueray Gins, along with a lingering sweet grainy finish. Delicious and thought provoking in equal measure – a treat to seek out if ever you get a chance!
Released in Spring of 2018 (and another one from the archives), Flor de Sevilla is based on a trip Charles Tanqueray took to Spain back in the 1860s. This particular tranche of the estate was launched in the UK and Spain in May, and, with its light orange, post-infusion hue, is a very obvious step to get into the fruity gin explosion that has caused waves across the category.
It may well have been a cynical decision, but the liquid isn’t lacking because of that – quite the opposit in fact – it’s one of the best fruit gins on the market today. It is unclear as to quite what goes into it or how it’s made however, and reading the label is essentially reading something that gives a lot of wiggle room from every angle: “The natural flavours of Seville oranges and orange blossom, other natural flavourings, colours and other fine botanicals” (thus meaning it could be steeped after distillation, or it could be a mix of natural essences, colourants and sweeteners).
The smell is overpowering. It’s got that just peeled, freshly cracked, overripe, juice running down your arm smell. Sometimes oranges have a faint air of pith and mould about them – not here! This is Sunny D, Tropicana levels of orange. It’s the tangerine you find at the bottom of your stocking on Christmas morning and it’s the oranges boiling on the tree in the midst of a Spanish heatwave.
Coriander spice adds a great depth to the gin. Sweetness laps at the tongue, but a heat joins it, keen as mustard to keep that gooey orange taste tethered to earth. Juniper still hums out from beneath it, though it doesn’t really leave its mark until the aftertaste. It’s delicious stuff. Silly at times, and far too orangey (for crows) to be a by-the-book gin, but that won’t stop us from grabbing this and a big old bottle of tonic and making for the garden just the second we get a minute…
For more information about Tanqueray, visit www.tanqueray.com
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