Tag Archives: tanqueray gin

Happy Birthday Charles Tanqueray!

charles tanqueray simple cocktails

There are few historical figures that I celebrate on an annual basis, but Charles Tanqueray (born March 27, 1810) is one of them. Gin was the first spirit I fell in love with, and Tanqueray has always been my gold standard for London Drys. The following is an excerpt of an interview I did with Tom Nicol, Tanqueray’s previous master distiller.

“Tanqueray was a genius” says Nicol, explaining that  Charles was passionate about making things and he invented many items – other than gin – over the course of his life. Some examples include a formula for horse saddle polish and medicines for injured animals.

It’s often reported that Charles rejected his father’s life in the church to distill gin, but there’s no evidence that Charles was on track to the clergy at any point. He was smart, to be sure, but Charles didn’t show any interest in attending university, and that was required for the pulpit. He sought to invent, to create, and to experiment.

Charles eyed other successful British gin distillers Felix Booth and Alexander Gordon, and decided to create “a better gin than theirs,” says Nichol. In his early 20’s, Charles Tanqueray developed several gin recipes, but it was his London Dry recipe that proved unforgettable. Nichol says “Charles won the lottery with that one.”

Charles Tanqueray reveled in his success. “He wasn’t the genius recluse like we sometimes see today, but Nicol recons that he was a genius who told everybody he was a genius. From his proud stature, to his knee-length frock coat, to his stately moustache and beard, Nichol says that “Charles liked to show off his success.”

Though he was a proud man, Tanqueray’s personal life is strangely undocumented. This leaves us to wonder: was Tanqueray obsessed with his business, but absent from his family? Or was he just a very private man who sought to protect his loved ones? By any account, we know few details of his personal life, in fact, we’re not exactly sure how many children Charles had.

The one child we do know of, though, is Charles Waugh Tanqueray, who took over his father’s distillery after his father died at 58. Tanqueray’s historians call Charles Waugh “an upright Christian gentleman of forceful character yet with social conscience,” and just like his father, Charles Waugh was a very young man when he began distilling. More of a businessman than an inventor, Charles’ son placed his attention on gin exclusively, resulting in Charles Waugh growing the Tanqueray brand much larger than his father, including his facilitating a merger with Gordon’s Gin—one of his father’s inspirations and competitors—in  the late 1800’s.

Charles Tanqueray really seems to have been a proud genius who both flaunted his talent and shrouded his family in mystery. Today, Tanqueray stands as one of the oldest and most successful gins in the history of the world.

*Photo courtesy Diageo Archives.

Walk the Line: Tanqueray

tanqueray flavors all bottles

This is Walk the Line: a series where I explore the entire product lines of the most popular liquor brands together with a panel of friends and tasters. Click here to view the entire Walk the Line series.

Tanqueray. The flagship Tanqueray in the green barrel-shaped bottle. Tanqeray is a classic, iconic London Dry gin with juniper as the primary flavor and traces of spice, coriander, and licorice. Tasters felt like the flavor was “classic gin” and those who prefer the stronger juniper really loved it. A bottle will run you $20.

Tanqueray No. 10. In 2000, Tanqueray 10 was created in the tenth still at the Tanqueray distillery. Meant as a premium and modern martini gin, 10 retails for $30. Tanqueray 10 is made in smaller batches than the flagship, and there is more citrus in the overall flavor. Tasters found Tanqueray 10 to be very balanced, with lots of flavors but none of them standing out as particularly  dominant. 10 finishes in your mouth very dry and martini fans thought this may just be the best martini gin they’d tried, saying it would taste great stirred on ice and served straight up.

Tanqueray Rangpur. Tanqueray Rangpur is named for the citrusy hybrid fruit that it’s made with. Lemon-lime-citrus is the substantially predominant flavor in Rangpur, with a hint of ginger and almost no trace of juniper. As a straight pour into tonic water, Rangpur wouldn’t require the typical lime wedge garnish for a gin and tonic. Tasters felt like Rangpur would be a great accompaniment to Indian or Asian food. Bottled at a lower proof than the two Tanquerays above (82 proof instead of 94), Rangpur will run you $22 a bottle.

Tanqueray Malacca. Originally hitting the market about 15 years ago, Malacca was discontinued a short time later and has subsequently become the unicorn of the spirits world, selling for hundreds of dollars a bottle. Re-introduced in February 2013 in limited quantity (100,000 numbered bottles), Malacca is based on an 1839 Charles Tanqueray recipe and some say it’s one of the truest gins you can find to the recipes from centuries ago.  Malacca is a very mild, soft gin that finishes with a hint of sweetness. It’s lower proof than those above (80) and is a friendly sip of gin with virtually none of the sharpness you find in London Drys like the flagship Tanqueray. Adorned in a unique gold-stamped and emerald/gold labeling, it comes in a crystal-clear bottle which signifies its uniqueness in the Tanqueray line. If you can find it before it’s gone again, Malacca run you about $30 a bottle.

Thank you for following the first several posts of the Walk the Line series these past 2 weeks. Expect to see other occasional explorations of large brands in the future as we walk their product lines here at Simple Cocktails!