Old Tom is a type of gin that dates back to the 1700s, and it ends up being the hybrid of London dry gin, genever, and whiskey (yes, whiskey). The legendary root of the “Old Tom” name is that in English alleyways during the gin craze, wooden cats would adorn the walls outside bars, and upon inserting your coin into the old tom cat, a proper dispense of gin would pour out, and you could be on your way after a slurp!
I started this review, then, by constructing a wooden cat dispenser in order to properly taste this gin.
I’m just kidding. It’s become a bit of a life’s goal for me, though, to try every gin that I can, and once I discovered that some new companies have begun distilling Old Tom, I had to get my hands on some. From what I can tell, only one brand of Old Tom gin is distilled and distributed in the United States: Ransom.
Old Tom is a sweeter gin than London dry, but more “gin-like” than genever. Ransom Old Tom’s base is malted barley (like scotch), and it’s aged for a short time in barrels, so I had no idea what to expect flavor-wise. I suppose I thought I would be drinking some sort of Southern Comfort-style sweet whiskey with some juniper flavor?
Now that I’ve cracked off it’s wax seal and had a taste, I can tell you that Ransom Old Tom is astounding gin, tasting completely gin-like and familiar, but with an added spice and a tiny sweetness that lingers long on the tongue. Ransom Old Tom is most definitely perfect in a Gin Old Fashioned:
Gin Old Fashioned
- Add 1 sugar cube (or spoon of sugar) to an old fashioned glass
- Douse with 3 dashes of Angostura bitters
- Add a splash of club soda and stir well
- Fill glass with ice, add 2 oz of old tom gin, stir until cold
- Take a piece of orange peel, squeeze over the glass and rub it around the rim
- Top with another splash of club soda
- Garnish with the orange peel and a cherry (I wrap the cherry in the peel)
Ransom Old Tom Gin retails for $37.