If you’ve drank a gin cocktail out. You know, out-out. At one of those swanky, upscale, fancy looking, suspenders and mustache sort it’s-a-speakeasy-but-not-really sort of bars. You’ve probably had Tanqueray No. 10 Gin. It’s really something of a staple in cocktail programs the world over. It’s quiet dominion began in 2000 when Tanqueray launched their high end offering, distilled on the “the small No. 10 still” heated by steam, it was designed to be craft, before craft was even really a thing. You might have even seen the buzz about “one shot” distilling vs dilution gaining traction during 2016. Tanqueray gins are distilled in “one shot” which means they come of the still at the intended strength.
In the 2000’s it won a ton of awards and established itself as something of a gold standard for the category. Its citrus-forward take on classic style gin may have influenced the gin explosion of the late 2000’s, which all happened while Tanqueray N0. 10 towered over the category. But enough legend building. How does it taste?
This is day 15 of the 2016 Master of Malt Gin Advent Calendar. If you want to join us, we’ll be reviewing one gin, every day for the next 11 days leading up to Christmas 2016. Learn More or Buy One yourself. Tanqueray No. 10 Gin was also featured in my book Gin: The Art and Craft of the Artisan Revival, which makes a great Christmas gift. Now back to your regularly scheduled review.
It’s so much more subtle and yet so much more complex than classic Tanqueray. Clean juniper notes sparkle while notes of both red grapefruit, white grapefruit and even a hint of jasmine.
The palate is certainly traditional in a lot of respects. Juniper is the star, with a lovely pine note that lasts through the finish. Coriander, too. But I think what sets it apart and what really elevates its appeal for cocktail craft is that creamy, almost slightly buttery mid-palate where the citrus jumps forward. Lots of orange and lime, but there’s this suggestive vanilla buttercream tinge to it.
Overall, what you’ll notice when you sip it on its own is the overall balance that it shows. You can clearly pick up where Tanqueray No. 10 is looking to differentiate itself, but also where it show humility and looks to the style’s tradition and history. It’s slightly less Tanqueray than you might expect given the name association. It really stands on its own and the novel touches really set it apart from its older brother.
It should go without saying that this gin makes a great Martini. There’s a reason it’s so many bars and bartenders and drinkers overall go-to gin of choice for the ubiquitous cocktail. Smooth but strong, flavorful but balanced, citrusy but traditional. It strikes a lot of the right balance just on its own. It mixes nearly as well too. Just a dash of Vermouth almost makes the gin taste smoother and a hair sweeter. Highly recommended.
Another thing that it does well is your general cocktail-mixing. I like it in cocktails more than I like it in mixed drinks, as I think shaken with ice, the spirit shows an accommodating, flavorful side that makes it such a great mixer. Anyway, do an Aviation, Twentieth Century, Leap Year Cocktail, Three to One, or almost anything else your creative heart can come up with. It’s not just so many bar’s default top shelf cocktail gin for no good reason, it really works.
If you’re going to just make Gin and Tonics, there’s other gins I would turn to first. But if you’re putting together a cocktail program and want to stay with the tried and proven, Tanqueray No. 10 is a winner.
Most fans of classic style gin will find a lot to like here. But it’s smoothness and pleasant citrus mid-palate should be enough to win over most drinkers. It’s more classic than contemporary, but don’t mistake it for being a staid homage to the past. It was a forward looking gin when it launched in 2000, and it’s quality I think is responsible for its longevity more than any name or marketing campaign. Recommended.
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