Taste Test: Old Tom Gin - Imbibe Magazine Subscribe + Save

With origins tracing back to 1800s England, Old Tom gin has a small but important role in the history of classic cocktails. Its parameters offer room for interpretation, with the style vaguely described as sweeter and heavier than a London dry gin, but with a drier mouthfeel than genever. But gin’s overall resurgence has motivated many makers to craft their own take on the (sometimes barrel-aged) spirit, offering versions with applications that go beyond a Martinez. Here are six versions that can be mixed, sipped neat, or swapped in for a new twist on classic cocktails.

Himbrimi Old Tom Gin

Himbrimi is born out of founder Óskar Ericsson’s love for fishing, and the Icelandic botanicals that nestle along the streams where he casts lines. Juniper is native to Iceland and easily shines among the other botanicals in this Old Tom gin, accompanied by the pleasant aroma and flavor of lavender. Befitting its dark hue, Himbrimi tastes like bergamot and sits on the palate like a rich, sweet black tea, making it especially enjoyable when sipped neat. $69.99/700 ml, himbrimi.com

Porter’s Tropical Old Tom

Operating from the basement of a bar in Scotland, Porter’s collaborated with scientists from Aberdeen University to build a vacuum still that works at lower temperatures than conventional stills, making it well suited to handle delicate botanicals. This Old Tom is cold-distilled with tropical ingredients like passion fruit, guava, and white tea, and it’s lightly sweetened to add a heavier body, yielding candy-like flavors of juicy fruits and watermelon, and a silky finish. $34.99/750 ml, caskers.com

Barr Hill Tom Cat Gin

Aged in new American oak barrels, Barr Hill’s Tom Cat gin could make a unique stand-in for bourbon in plenty of cocktails. The Vermont-based company forages the same local botanicals that attract pollinating bees, then sweetens the spirit with the addition of a raw honey that captures the region’s terroir. The result is a rich-bodied spirit, with a rounded sweetness and notes of honeydew and vanilla. $32.99/375 ml, caledoniaspirits.com

Hayman’s Old Tom Gin

Hayman’s Old Tom gin is a response to bartenders’ demands during the craft cocktail renaissance for a straightforward approach to the spirit, making it an intentional gin to lean on for classics like the Martinez and Tom Collins. Light on the nose and weighty on the body, the London-made gin possesses simple aromatics of lemon peel and juniper, making it a no-nonsense gin for mixing. $25.99/750 ml, drizly.com

Spring44 Old Tom Gin

Loveland, Colorado–based Spring44 distills their Old Tom with juniper and botanicals like lemongrass, galangal, and coriander, then ages the gin in toasted Chardonnay barrels. A grassy, patchouli nose is complemented by a silky, vanilla-rich flavor, with a pleasantly minty crispness and a lingering finish. Try working this into an extra aromatic Martini. $41.99/750 ml, spring44.com

Ransom Old Tom Gin

Cocktail writer and historian David Wondrich helped formulate Ransom Spirits’ Old Tom, with the goal of re-creating the closest-tasting version of an original American-made recipe from the 1800s. It’s reliable, elegant, and classic, with a mild spice and heavy notes of orange peel on both the nose and the palate. With a clean body, Ransom offers a solid option for what many have defined as a classic Old Tom gin. $38.95/750 ml, ransomspirits.com

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