THE FIRST GIN DISTILLED IN AMERICA
Chances are you've probably heard of Prohibition era cocktails like the Bee's Knees and Tom Collins, but did you know these timeless classics called for Old Tom style gin in their original recipes? Back in the day Old Tom gin was a common staple behind the bar and when someone asked for gin it was usually in the Old Tom style. In fact I'm pretty sure that's how the Tom Collins originally got it's name.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN TRADITIONAL GIN & OLD TOM GIN
Ever hear gin described as a botanical flavored vodka? Well that's not really the case here. If anything Old Tom gin is closer related to bourbon and Scotch than it is to vodka. The difference between Old Tom gin and more traditional styles (such as London Dry) is the latter is fermented from grains (sometimes even potatoes) and infused or distilled with botanical flavors such as coriander, cassia, citrus zests, and most notably juniper berries. The result is a crisp, clean finish.
Old Tom gin, on the other hand, is sweeter and has a fuller body in contrast to more traditional gins. The base is made from a concoction of pure corn distillate infused with the same usual botanical flavors as gin which is then distilled with malted barley wort (the liquid used for fermentation).
BRANDS TO TRY
A lot (if not all) of the original Old Tom brands faded away during the 20th century in favor of the more crisp, dry style gins. However since the turn of the century, American cocktail culture has experienced a renaissance and the thirst began for original ingredients once listed in 18th and 19th century cocktail books; giving new life to the long lost spirit once again.
I'll soon be adding a bottle or two to my arsenal, and when I do I'll share notes with y'all (starting with that Barr Hill Tom Cat Barrel Aged Gin!), but for now here's a handful of brands I have my eye on which you can try yourself.
Until next time, cheers!
Hayman's Old Tom Gin
Ransom Old Tom Gin
Price - $39.99
Jensen's Old Tom Gin
Aviation American Old Tom Gin
Barr Hill Tom Cat Barrel Aged Gin