Old Tom Gin – The History and The Best To Buy

As a small preface, Old Tom Gin's popularity came in the 18th century and was named after wooden plaques which were shaped like black cats - always found on the walls of some pubs above a public walkway. In a way to slow the craze of Gin in England, the UK government placed heavy taxes and licencing restrictions upon venues which ultimately pushed the industry underground.

The cat would be a signal that the premises sold underground gin, and would often sell it by the shot through a small hole in the wall. The Cat symbol was affectionately known as 'Old Tom' and thus the gin earned the name.

'Old Tom Gin' was the first type of gin drink to take hold in the UK. Gin was inspired by the Dutch drink Jenever which is a similarly flavoured spirt using Juniper and other botanicals. The Old Tom was much drier than the Dutch drink, but still sweeter than the spirit which would ultimately replace Old Tom as the UK's favourite gin, London Dry.

When we compare the old style of gin with the more common dry gin we are accustomed to today, it is clear that Old Tom's botanicals are more punchy, stronger and bolder. There is much more flavour but not quite as much sophistication.



Best Old Tom Gin from the UK


Hayman's Gin

First is not always the best, but in this case, it may be. The Hayman's Distillery has a rich heritage when it comes to gin. The great-great-grandfather of the distillery's current owners was said to have invented the original 'London Dry Gin' Recipe. 

Hayman's is also credited for giving the old 18th-century recipe a new modern audience and started the trend of Old Tom's on back-bars across the UK.

Their gin is potent, and wonderfully robust, with strong notes of citrus. The sweetness is palpable and the botanicals stand strongly on their own. This is a super multi-award-winning gin you should try.

This is a timeless classic which may never be topped. This is the best Old Tom Gin we have tried yet.


Hayman's Old Tom

Edinburgh Gin - Old Tom

Edinburgh Gin has produced a fantastic Old Tom with a modern, and very interesting, twist. It combines the classic sweetness that you'd expect with an Old Tom Gin, with a deep earthy nuttiness for contrast.

Their twist on the classic contains Sarsaparilla, Macadamia nuts and Tonka beans to give the gin a rich, nutty, bittersweet flavouring. They have added agave syrup to the finished gin to bring in the classic Old Tom sweetness and viscous mouthfeel.

It is not the best gin from the distillery in my opinion, but a great example of an Old Tom.

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Edinburgh Gin - Old Tom

Rock Rose - Pink Grapefruit Old Tom

Rock Rose is a fantastic, and extremely popular, Gin distillery from Scotland. Their classic London Dry is well above average and so is their Old Tom. 

The gin has punchy flavours and strong sweet and sour notes of grapefruit with sweetness from Muscavado sugar.

The gin is wonderful with a simple garnish of grapefruit and ice cold tonic.




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