Tanqueray London Dry Gin

tanqueray-bottleThe gin tradition of Charles Tanqueray began on Vine Street in Bloomsbury in 1830. A pastor’s son who broke with tradition, his creation would certainly be a first ballot Gin-Hall-Of-Fame entrant (if ever there was such a thing). Continuously distilled since its invention, the brand has been owned by several big companies, and while it has been passed around it never lost any of its luster. To many people, Tanqueray is London Dry Gin; its signature green glass is gin.

With such long lasting success (and it’s still among the top 6 selling gins worldwide) comes some of the perils of being seen as “default.” In recent years, Tanqueray has marketed their flagship gin as something of a hyrbid of “prestige brand” (bringing it in competition with Tanqueray’s high end Tanqueray No. 10 Gin) and a “party with your friends gin.”

Today the brand is distilled at the massive Cameronbridge Distiller in Scotland and owned by Diageo. In Europe you’ll find it bottled at 43.1% ABV; in the US it’s a more assertive (and superior taste-wise in my opinion, especially for mixing) 47.3% ABV. In contrast the other gins, the botanicals are distilled immediately and not macerated prior. Secondly, it also does not use a concentrated botanical distillation which is diluted with neutral spirit after distillation. The botanical strength of the distillate is the botanical strength of the gin.

Tasting Notes

Juniper is the predominant character on the nose. I find that the juniper note in Tanqueray London Dry is perhaps the most signature characteristic of it, no other gin quite has that singular juniper note. There’s an intriguing intimation of citrus zest (intriguing because citrus is not a botanical) along with candied angelica stalk and licorice. Absolutely distinctive and classic. You’ll recognize Tanqueray in a cocktail immediately once you’re acquainted with it.

The palate begins with juniper, but finishes with rich hints of baking spice including angelica root, cinnamon and coriander seed. The finish on the palate captures angelica/coriander in a way that suggests that top note of Bombay Sapphire to me.

The finish is a little warm, with quite a bit of heat evident, especially at the 47.3% ABV. Long and slightly warm, mostly spice-forward on the finish.

Cocktails

If you’re at any bar around the world and you just want a good Gin and Tonic, you can nearly always count on a bar at Tanqueray on the back shelf. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been at a dive, club, or concert venue, and in search of a good drink called out the Tanqueray that I knew would be back there. It’s really the gin-lovers-hero-when-you-need-it-the-most.

However, one of the drawbacks I find of Tanqueray, especially in cocktail mixing is that it can be a bit too harsh and dominant in drinks. For example, I think that Tanqueray is far inferior to Tanqueray 10 in the Aviation. That being said, it’s almost a completely different drink than with Tanqueray 10, with lots of bold juniper and coriander notes, though some overpower more subtle violet notes (Pro-tip: double the Creme de Violette, but don’t go above 1/2 oz.) Another example of where I think the gin has been superseded is in the Martini. It’s a little heavy-handed and some of he duller ethanol notes on the finish make for an acceptable, but ultimately underwhelming drink.

Tanqueray is a good gin for mixed drinks, but I think that it seems a bit dated when it comes to most modern cocktails.

Overall

Tanqueray London Dry Gin is an enduring classic that most drinkers have already formed an opinion on. Fans of gin and classic gin, will appreciate the drier, more juniper-forward profile which stands in contrast to many of its peers which balance juniper with citrus and additional spice botanicals. But fans of more contemporary styles will likely want to look elsewhere. Certainly Tanqueray is an important historical benchmark in the world of gin and worth a look, but there may be more balanced offerings available in a crowded marketplace, no matter what your tastes are.

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Readers' Reviews

Post last updated by Aaron

19 thoughts on “Tanqueray London Dry Gin

  • December 14, 2013by Ed

    I don’t drink so have no clue when it comes to different types of gin. If someone I want to give a bottle of gin to likes this kind is there something a little higher on the gin chain that I can get that may be enjoyed just as well?

  • December 25, 2013by CJ Schneider

    I have always enjoyed it in a Negroni but I think you are right about the martini. My first Tanqueray martini was in 1982 and have tried ever since to make it work….without success. I agree, look for other gins for that classic.

  • February 15, 2015by John

    As a martini, no. As a G&T, it is my go to brand. As such probably should get a 2.5 or a 3.

  • June 18, 2015by highbobngb

    Ditto on the G&T, and I do like it quite a lot in a Collins, but I would never use it in any martini. Tanqueray is definitely some crunchy quaff.

  • July 6, 2015by Graham Miles

    I must be a cheap gin drinker ’cause this is my go-to for the second gin of the night. I’ll try the pretty stuff, all pink, fruity and floral for the first glass (with Soda of course). Then my second will be a hefty Tanq. There’s something that hits the spot and I think it’s the slight sweetness that tarts up the soda. It reminds me of… wait for it… Brylcreem… which for many will be either a put-off or a WTF is Brylcreem. It’s a utility Gin, that has enough flavor to keep you interested, but is cheap enough to throw in some sweet and sugary nightmare that the kids love.

  • July 6, 2015by AaronPost author

    Haha, love the reference. And I don’t think you’re too far off, many men’s products with fragrance (especially from that era) aimed for similar aromatic profiles as did gin. There’s a huge overlap in gin aroma fashion and fashion in general (with many gin themes colognes hitting the market in the last ~10 years).

    I definitely don’t think its offputting. There’s a reason the aroma of Brylcreem has endured for so long!
    Cheers,
    Aaron

  • July 15, 2015by Graham Miles

    One could develop a whole new blog concerning the blending of different Gins. My SO the other night, finished of my last ounce of Brokers with a dash of Aviation. It was delightful marriage of two distinct flavors.

  • September 18, 2015by Will

    I think Tanqueray does just fine in a martini, sipping on one right now. I like it in a traditional one but try blending it with M & R Bianco, maybe a bit of freshly squeezed citrus, could drink it all evening. Tanqueray cosmopolitan, also viable. Maybe I’m crazy but I use and appreciate Tanqueray anywhere I can put vodka, haven’t found anything I dislike except the Aviation, may try Bombay in it coming up but think it’s just not my drink.

  • September 18, 2015by Graham

    Move over Tanq and a fond farewell. The new black is Hayman’s London Dry. Not a fancy floral extravaganza but a lovely traditional herbal mix that gives you just that little extra Juniper that Tanq lacks. My new 5pm tipple with a dash of soda.

  • September 22, 2015by MICK

    interesting reviews – the delicate fragrance arising from the simplicity of the limited botanicals; the first capture to the palate a pleasure lacking the overkill of so many other products; a great gin with great value for price. IIWII.

  • September 22, 2015by Graham

    Good point Mick, in an effort to capture new markets, some distillers are over-thinking their Gin. I mean just how many botanicals can the palate discern when they are all mixed together in a subtle vaporous cloud. As someone on another site commented, any Gin that does not have Juniper as the predominating herb, is basically a flavored Vodka.

  • October 3, 2015by Christer.

    Tanqueray has been an ongoing love story for me and wifey,for more than 30 years now. Especially since we started mixing it with Noilly Prat, for our Martinis. Visited the NP distillery in Marseillan – France recently and had a guided tour around the plant. When the topic concerning the proper gin for a Martini surfaced, the guide was very firm in her belief that Tanqueray was the right stuff to marry with Noilly Prat, if you wanted a stylish dry Martini. Taste is a thing you actually can´t debate, but all our friends seem to be very fond of my Martinis, though some comments here makes me wonder if they´re just being polite.

  • November 1, 2015by Ian

    I started my gin journey a few years ago with Bombay Sapphire, which I stuck to for years until my friend introduced me to Hendrick’s. Unfortunately, it’s almost double the price here in Canada, so I still drink Bombay. Recently I tried Dillon’s and really enjoyed it, but strangely missed the slight ‘harshness’ of other gins. Tonight (for the first time) I bought a bottle of Tanqueray, just to see how it compared. It’s nothing to write home about, but somehow it feels very at home in a G&T – just the right amount of bite, and not too smooth to be mistaken for something else. I’ll keep a bottle in my cabinet for days when I want an “average” G&T 🙂

  • December 23, 2015by Tom V

    I enjoy lots of different gins, hey variety is the spice, no? I must have 15 or 20 different gins right now in my “bunker”. I enjoy them all depending on my whim and the application.

    When it comes to Tanq, I must agree with Will, Mick, & Christer above. I love the stuff, it’s a gin’s gin, got nice cut and edge to it, plenty of Juniper, and to me makes the original great Martini!

  • January 28, 2016by Brian Donovan

    I agree with the review. I accidentally picked up a bottle. I love the Ragpur and like the Ten. I found the regular rather bland and thin.

  • March 6, 2016by ciks11

    I am a rookie when it comes to gin, and most definitely when talking about cocktails. So I must ask, and would be greatful if somebody could answer: what do you refer to when saying ”original Martini”? I mean, gin mixed with sweet or dry vermouth and in which ratio? Thanks…

  • March 30, 2016by ciks11

    I’m a total rookie when it comes to gin/martini drinking, so I have to ask. What do you refer to when saying ‘original martini’?

  • April 1, 2016by Tuck

    I like an IPA for beer, coffee black, and Tanqueray for my martini (dry!). If you like wheat beer with an orange, caramel lattes, Pina Coladas, and Britney Spears, then move on to your fru fru gins.

  • January 3, 2017by Bruce

    It was my very first, go to gin. Long ago it became too simple for most of my drinks, but it never was an inferior product and still, it’s my number one fall back in many bars and restaurants.

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