Icewine Old Tom is an unusual Old Tom. All Old Toms are sweetened, but That Boutique-y Gin Company opts for something different: Canadian Icewine.
The addition of wine to impart a sort-of-sweetening isn’t new. For example, German distilled Ferdinand Saar Dry Gin uses Riesling, added after distillation, to add some wine notes, some texture, and some sweetness. However, Icewine differs dramatically from an ordinary sweet wine. Icewine is rich, thick and almost syrupy. Grapes are harvested immediately after first frost and pressed while still frozen.
The Icewine is added to gin. And bam! Icewine Old Tom.
Icewine Old Tom is a deep amber in hue.
The nose is rich and powerful. The icewine notes are recognizable immediately. I get a hint of Cabernet Franc, with an unctuous floral under-layer. Thick notes of honeysuckle and magnolia, with cherry and vanilla. It’s a bold aroma that reminds me a bit more of a liqueur than a 42.1% ABV gin.
The palate has a fairly rich mouthfeel, especially early on, but Icewine Old Tom is less sweet than many other traditionally sweetened Old Tom style gins.
The wine hits you first. The gin comes on about mid-palate. Juniper, baking spice and citrus rind. Towards the back end, you start to get some hints of tannins and baked fruit. Notes of stewed pears and Oloroso Sherry.
The Gin + Wine notes immediately suggest the combination of gin and and a sweet Vermouth.
Some of That Boutique-y Gin Company’s offerings are tough to place in cocktails. Icewine Old Tom is another one of these. The wine notes are so up and center that they can take over.
Unless, you pair it with Vermouth. As I mentioned above, you might mistake it for already having Sweet Vermouth in it.
You can go for a Negroni effect, without ever even needing to grab the Vermouth. Pair it 2:1 with Campari. The Icewine notes adds a pleasant, less bitter counterpoint when compared to a standard Negroni, while the Sherry finish is striking and works.
That being said, I’d stick to drinks with Sweet Vermouths, like the Martinez. If you ever craved a Perfect Martini (made with both sweet and dry Vermouths), you could pair Icewine Old Tom with a Dry Vermouth in a 4:1 ratio. Though I’d say it was a bit too much and the gin notes were a little obscured.
Icewine Old Tom is an unusual experiment in gin craft. It pushes the envelope of the Old Tom style and leaves us wondering, “what else can be used to sweeten a gin?”
Ultimately, it’s a niche product that is more for sipping neat than it is for mixing. If you like fortified wines, and are the kind of person who would drink Vermouth just on its own, this might be the gin you need for your collection.
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