The Santé Master Tasting series is designed to highlight those wine and spirits brands that most closely exemplify a specific style within a given category. For this tasting, we asked Chicago-based master mixologist and herbal enthusiast Adam Seger to review Tanqueray gin and create an original cocktail that complements it’s London dry style.
Unlike vodka, which by definition is a “neutral” (read flavorless) distilled white spirit, gin takes some explaining. Once the most popular spirit in the world (19th century Brits consumed absurd quantities of the libation), gin suffered a steep decline over the past three decades, corresponding with the rise in the popularity of vodka and flavored vodkas. Few bartenders, however, would dispute that we are now in the midst of a global gin renaissance. Led by mixologists like Seger, gin is making a remarkable and refreshing comeback.
Gin is a clear, mostly unaged spirit that derives its flavor from a variety of fruit peels and botanicals, most notably juniper, which by law must be the prominent flavor ingredient. Other common ingredients include lemon and orange peels, almonds, angelica roots, anise, caraway, cardamom, cassia bark, cinnamon, coriander, grains of paradise, orris root, licorice root, nutmeg, and saffron, among others.
Though there are several ways to make gin, the two dominant styles are the Dutch genever and London dry. Genever is at least partially distilled from barley malt or other malted grains using a pot still, and is sometimes aged in wood. As with whiskey, this gives a slight malty flavor to the alcohol. Genever is typically lower in alcohol content and distinctly different from other gins. The few surviving genevers are enjoyed mainly in Holland.
London dry, such as Tanqueray, is by far the most popular gin style. It is made with neutral grain spirits infused with juniper, citrus peel, and other herbaceous ingredients and redistilled in a column still. Depending on the proportions and ingredients used, the flavor of London dry gins can vary significantly from brand to brand. By law, London dry gin may not contain added sugar or colorants; water is the only permitted additive.
With its formula fiercely unchanged in 130 years, Tanqueray has always been my go-to gin for a well-crafted gin and tonic. The quintessential London dry, Tanqueray— with its key ingredients of juniper, coriander, and angelica root—is unafraid to taste like a gin. Although new gin aficionados may be coaxed into the world of gin with a 50/50 Tanqueray/vodka martini to tame the juniper notes, these believers soon move towards the full, crisp, classic profile of Tanqueray. With a gin & tonic, Tanqueray is essential. Its full character is needed to balance a proper tonic’s quinine.
In my ‘Mojitonico’, Tanqueray’s robust botanicals get jiggy with the fresh herbs while the cracked pepper and muddled lime skins bring harmony to the “garden in a glass.”
For more info: tanqueray.com