Liberator Barrel Rested Old Tom Gin

Maker: Valentine, Ferndale, Michigan, USA2016-03-10-16.36.44.jpg.jpeg

Batch 2

ABV: 45.2%

Michigan State Minimum: $49

Appearance: Bright copper.

Nose: Lime zest, orange peel, juniper, earthy red wine.

Palate: Full bodied and semi-dry. Hot. Like eating lemonheads under a pine tree.

Finish: Raw ginger, fresh cut pine.

Mixed: Surprisingly good in Tom Collins and with tonic. Adds a pleasant gingery bite. Does as well as expected in a Negroni, Princeton, Aviation, Bronx and a perfect martini. Much better than expected in a dry martini. This gin was great every way I tried mixing it.

Parting words: I’ve had this gin in my liquor cabinet for quite some time now. I didn’t drink it much because I view barrel rested gins as good for Negronis, perfect martinis and not much else. I was wrong in this case. Liberator barrel rested gin is good for anything you want to do with it.

Like its unrested sibling, Valentine’s rested Old Tom gin is aggressive but still elegantly blanced. It’s like a tall, attractive exchange student who grinds on you at your senior prom. Yes, it may cost you a lot of money, but it’s well worth the experience. Liberator Barrel Rested Old Tom Gin is highly recommended.

Hayman’s Old Tom Gin

Maker: Hayman, London, England, UKHaymans_OldTom_Path

Distiller: Thames Distillers, London, England, UK

ABV: 40%

Appearance: Clear.

Nose: Lime peel, juniper, a bit of horehound, anise, sweet cinnamon.

On the palate: Full-bodied. Sweet, slightly fruity, some heat and licorice.

Finish: Sweet, old fashioned candy. Lingers a very long time.

Mixed: Does very well in all applications. May get a little lost in a Tom Collins, but more than holds its own with tonic. The bitterness of the tonic is a very pleasant counterpoint to the fruity candy flavors of this gin. The same is true for a dry martini. The bitter herbal notes of the vermouth are a perfect foil for Hayman’s Old Tom.

Parting words: This is the second Old Tom gin I have reviewed on the blog and this is the better of the two. It’s more balanced and complex than Ransom and a little closer to a classic dry gin profile. But dry it is not. It’s got loads of sweet, fruity flavors in addition to the sharp botanical flavors. This balance makes it a perfect gin for classic cocktails and even for the occasional sip neat. An excellent gin from start to finish. Hayman’s Old Tom is highly recommended.

Ransom Old Tom Gin

Maker: Ransom, Sheridan, Oregon, USA

Style: Barrel-aged Old Tom

Batch: 25 (different batch pictured)

Age: 3-6 mos.

ABV: 44%

Appearance: Dark straw. Thick legs and robe.

Nose: Light juniper, cardamom, coriander, a touch of citrus and a little malt.

On the palate (neat): Medium bodied and spicy. Cardamom really comes to the fore, only slightly restrained by the citrus notes. Gets sweeter with a splash of water, but still very spicy.

Finish: Even spicier with what tastes like a big hit of ginger (Angelica maybe?). Tingly for a long time.

Mixed: Makes an interesting Martini. A dirty or a Gibson helps to cut the spice with more aggressive saltiness than a dry. A perfect also balances out the spice from the sweet side. My go-to gin for a Negroni. Makes for a screwy Tom Collins or Gin & Tonic.

Parting words: The folks at Ransom were generous enough to put the ingredients  right on the front of the label of this product. They are: Malted two row* barley, corn (maize), juniper berries, orange & lemon peel, coriander seed, cardamon (sic) pods and angelica root. To my tongue, the cardamom takes center stage here.

My friend Gary, a self-made expert vatter of all things spirituous, handed me one of his projects when I was in Kentucky last spring. It was a recreation of what, based on his research, 19th century Old Tom gin would have been like. Old Tom was sort of a bridge between Dutch genever and London dry gin in terms of sweetness. Gary’s take is quite sweet. The citrus, particularly orange, is in the driver’s seat. The focus is much more on that than on the spice. Gary’s is more drinkable neat, but Ransom’s is probably more interesting over all.

At any rate, Ransom’s Old Tom gin is a not something I drink a lot of, but it has it’s place and is definately worth trying as an example of a nearly extinct species of gin. Ransom’s Old Tom Gin is recommended.


*Two-row barleys are low-protein, older strains of barley used in the making of English ale (among other things). See