Think Langley’s and you might recall my visit down to Birmingham to meet Rob Dorsett, and the team, and yet another time when I dressed like a dinner lady.
And whilst the name of Langley’s Old Tom (and indeed their original No 8 Gin, and their First Chapter) is connected, it’s a little looser than you might expected. To explain, let’s go right the way to the beginning.
Now in the beginning, way back in 2011, I was not a massive Langley’s fan. The two gents behind it’s creation, both named Mark, had created a number of recipes for friends and family to try so that they could pick the best for future production. The gin is created at the Langley Distillery, though the gents themselves have no direct connection. They did, however recognise the importance of the name, and it’s history and asked the family if they could use the name for their gin. The family agreed, and Langley’s Gin was born.
The reason I was not a fan, is because the gin recipe was based it around the idea of a ‘masculine palate’. Now, as we all know, this is bullshit. There is no masculine of feminine palate, only people’s palates and everyone’s is different, formed from their natural tastes, and from their positive and negative experiences with flavours. So as you can imagine, I eyerolled, and moved along.
Thankfully, the gents seem to have revised their ideas – everyone can learn something new – which is good, because Langley’s No 8 is a good gin. It’s straightforward, well balanced, and classic in style. A little crispness, a good bite of juniper, spice bubbling below the surface, it’s the kind of gin you want in a G&T after a bad day.
Fast forward to 2016 and they launched their Old Tom style gin. And Old Tom is a slightly sweeter, and more citrus heavy gin that became popular in the 18th Century, and there are a myriad of rumours as to why it’s called Old Tom – many involving a black cat in a window, and swapping gin for a penny, all done secretively in the wake of the restrictive gin production laws brought in after we got a little addicted to the stuff. The gin laws meant that unlicensed distillers moved underground, and obtaining gin from them had to be done in secret. If you want to know more, I’d happily recommend Gin Foundry’s blog post on it as a little further reading.
As you’d imagine, with the name Langley’s on the bottle, this Old Tom was always going to be in a traditional style, with just eight botanicals, including, juniper, fennel, lemon peel, coriander, tangerine and nutmeg. The bottle too, is rather traditional, which in a sea of clear and white bottles, not only gives a nod to it’s 19th century recipe, but also to the history of Old Tom as whole.
Time to dive in. Neat on the nose, you get a good punchy hit of citrus, layers of it which come out on the palate. From the slight sweetness of coriander, through powdery hints of lemon peel, into the juiciness of tangerine. The fennel is there more as a green note rather than as a bite of anise, and the sweetness is there, but it’s not sugary, it’s just softening the edges a little.
As you’d expect as an Old Tom, this works well as a sipper, but also as a G&T.
Tonic oddly brings out more green notes – more juniper, more earthiness. Citrus and lemon is still all around the glass, but it’s finish is more earthy green in nature. I can’t help but feel that a splash of this in a lemon sorbet would add a little something something. Maybe I need to get into the kitchen?
Overall, much as No. 8 is a good classic gin, this is a good classic Old Tom that I’d happily sip neat and chilled, or enjoy in a Tom Collins or Martinez. Delish.