Old Tom Gin

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Old Tom Gin (or Tom Gin or Old Tom) is a gin recipe popular in 18th-century England. In modern times, it became rare but has experienced a resurgence in the "Craft Cocktail" movement. It is slightly sweeter than London Dry, but slightly drier than the Dutch Jenever, thus is sometimes called "the missing link".[1]

The name Old Tom Gin purportedly came from wooden plaques shaped like a black cat (an "Old Tom") mounted on the outside wall of some pubs above a public walkway in 18th century England. Owing to the Gin Craze, the British government tried to stem the flow of gin with prohibitive taxes and licensing, which drove the scene underground. Under the cat's paw sign was a slot to put money in and a lead tube. From the tube would come a shot of gin, poured by the bartender inside the pub.[2]

Old Tom Gin was formerly made under licence by a variety of distillers around the world; however, one was recently relaunched by Hayman's distillery based on an original recipe.[3] Since then a number of other companies have followed suit, such as: Both's; Secret Treasures; The Liberty Distillery; Tanqueray; Jensens; Ransom; Master Of Malt; and The Dorchester Hotel. [4]

An Old Tom Gin made by J. Wray and Nephew Ltd. of Jamaica is very popular on that island better known for rum.

The first written record of Old Tom Gin being used in the Tom Collins cocktail was the 1891 book, The Flowing Bowl: When and What to Drink.[5]

In popular culture[edit]

  • In the movie Oliver!, Nancy sings "It's a Fine Life" in a pub where the wall behind the bar is lined with kegs marked "RUM", "GIN", and "OLD TOM".


  1. ^ Cocktail-DB - Profile (accessed 21 June 2008)
  2. ^ http://imbibemagazine.com/Old-Tom-Gin
  3. ^ Oh-Gosh-Old Tom Gin (accessed 21 June 2008)
  4. ^ Summer Fruit Cup - Tasting of 10 Old Toms (accessed 13 March 2011)
  5. ^ Schmidt, William (1891). The Flowing Bowl: When and what to Drink : Full Instructions how to Prepare, Mix, and Serve Beverages. C.L. Webster. p. 179. Retrieved 25 November 2008. 

External links[edit]