AT A GLANCE
Distilled & Owned by: Spirit Works Distillery in Sebastopol, California
Still Type: Hybrid Still
Spirit Type: Old Tom Gin
Strength: 44.9% ABV
Price: $32 (375ml)
Founded by Timo and Ashby Marshall, Spirit Works Distillery is a grain-to-glass distillery situated in downtown Sebastopol, California that specializes in a variety of whiskeys and gins. For more than five years, Timo and Ashby have been leading a dedicated team producing some of the best spirits in the state.
Their new distillery exclusive is Old Tom Gin. According to gin expert David T. Smith, in his Forgotten Spirits & Long Lost Liqueurs, old tom gins were invented during England’s 18th century “Gin Craze” as a means to hide the poor quality of the base spirit with sugar or with more intense botanicals. Today, quality neutral spirit to make gin is not an issue, but old tom gin has made a resurgence in part because it works very well in a number of classic cocktails.
Spirit Works’ Old Tom began as the brain child of Timo and starts with the classic gin botanicals of juniper, coriander, angelica root, cardamom, lemon and orange zest, rounded out with the addition of orris and licorice root. After distillation, the gin is rested for a three months in used wheat whiskey barrels and then sweetened with a little bit of local organic honey. This rest period gives the gin a light amber color and with the honey creates a nice round mouthfeel.
Nose: The nose is lovely and inviting with notes of lemon and juniper followed with just a touch of honey and vanilla. Underneath the top aromas there is an interesting earthy aroma like toasted bread and a hint of spice that is reminiscent of citrus, juniper and rye.
Palate: On the palate the gin starts with a little heat but that quickly subsides into welcoming flavors of juniper, honey, and citrus that are slightly mellowed with a little woodiness. The honey gives the gin a very subtle sweetness, but it is balanced just perfectly, with no cloying sugar coating the palate, just nice and clean.
Finish: The finish is long with light notes of honey followed by warm oak character and just a touch of bitterness from the juniper.
Conclusion: Spirit Works Old Tom is a delicious example of the category and it is extremely versatile. Despite its near 90 proof bottling strength, the gin is easy to sip neat, and works well stirred on ice and served up with a twist. This old tom also work extremely well in classic gin cocktails like the Martinez and the Negroni. With this distillery exclusive, Spirit Works has once again demonstrated their incredible skill, and gives gin fan yet another reason to make the trek to Sebastopol and stock up on this fantastic spirit.