The 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 London Dry Gin 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 Distillery 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.
Nose: 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.
Flavor: 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.
Finish: Long and slightly warm, mostly spice-forward on the finish.
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 to have Tanqueray London Dry Gin 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.
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. I recommend Tanqueray 10 instead.
Tanqueray London Dry Gin is a good gin for mixed drinks, but I think that it seems a bit dated when it comes to most modern cocktails.
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.
36 thoughts on “Tanqueray London Dry Gin”
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 🙂
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!
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.
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…
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’?
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.
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.
Tanq in Canada is only 40%, which makes me sad
I’ve had some great classic Martinis made with Tanqueray gin at Alastair Little’s in London, so I think it depends how you mix them.
Having said that, these days I’d go for Martin Miller, Botanist, Sacred Heart or another modern gin.
I keep trying different gins to expand my horizons, yet I keep finding myself coming back to this old favorite, sensing something is missing from other gins, or heaven forbid, there are additional flavors that just don’t seem like they belong.
Great blog this! It seems that the differences between Tanqueray ”40”, “43.1” & “47.3” requires 3 different reviews. I don’t really go for the Aussie standard 80proof and therefore generally favour Tanq 10 however we recently got a 750ml bottle of tanqueray 47.3 and in a side by side tasting we all picked the old school Tanq.
It is a boss in a negroni! Perky enough to sneak a peak over the top of the Campari yet still leave room for me the vermouth.
I can’t help but think that if I was a mother that it probably may have ruined me……
Personally, I’m convinced that the only real martini is a tanqueray martini, with a cap full of dry vermouth, shaken hard and bruised. The hard shaking produces snowy ice crystals that take the edge off of the ethanol taste, and the bruising brings out some of the more subtle flavors.
I would love a Tanqueray martini (3:1 with Dolin Dry, well stirred or even shaken) at the holidays. I find the intense juniper just goes with the season. That said most of my martini drinking friends like slightly more tame gins like Bombay Dry or Citadelle. I may splurge on a bottle just for me or go over the top for St. George Terroir.
Never been able to stand this stuff, tastes like drinking a pine tree.
Tanq ia the original and best for me. I know everyone likes to be trendy and edgy and all that stuff, and I’ve gone through a hell of a lot of gin in my years. Currently on Roku, have some Swedish stuff in as well, and ultimately I always end up preferring Tanqueray. It’s perfect in a gandt, negronis and martinis. I don’t know why I bother buying anything else….
After a Spain and Portugal vacation at top of this year, I became quite fascinated with the Gin Tonica craze happening there and became hooked. Tanq was THE go to gin for the G&T, as it allowed for all kinds of crazy garnishes and botanicals. After returning to the states (and finding this website,) I started a journey into different gins and their best uses in different cocktails. I do love and appreciate the myriad of choices. Someone said it earlier, Tanq was their second gin of the night. I fall into this category. I’ll usually begin with something a bit different at the start of an evening, but when I move on from the fancy, I always land on Tanq. It never lets me down in a G&T no matter how clever I want to get with the recipe. It never disappears or disappoints. The juniper stands firm.
I like it in a dirty martini, it stands up to the olive juice/brine while still offering a nice drink. It works wonders in a negroni and of course in a gin and tonic.
Tanqueray and me have had a rough history over the years. I honestly just can’t bring myself to ever choose this over Bombay Sapphire. If you’re going pound-for-pound by price, you *are* more likely to find Tanq to be cheaper than Bombay, and that does have its uses….but it’s wedged between Bombay and Beefeater, and both in my opinion outshine it in their own respective cocktails. It just drinks too hot and bitter.
Lately, all the bottles of Tangqueray I’ve bought, tastes spicy hot! I’ve bought this for years, but can’t tolerate this new heat! What’s changed?
Generally a fan of Tanqueray London Dry Gin but a recent purchase lacked its customary rounded favour. Smell and aftertaste of raw spirit. Any idea why?
“There’s an intriguing intimation of citrus zest”
This should very likely read “imitation” above.
… the impression of citrus will come from the coriander seed, and many gin producers will use this botanical for this very purpose.
“There’s an intriguing intimation of citrus zest”
This should obviously be spelled “imitation” above.
The impression of citrus will come from the coriander seed, and many producers will use this botanical in gin for this very purpose.
No, I meant intimation. It’s not an “imitation,” a la a deliberate attempt to replicate the flavor of something although not using an ingredient.
In describing flavors of aromas, intimation means “hint” or “indication” thereof. While we know the botanical bill does not include a citrus element, the overall flavor profile contains hints of citrus. As you say, perhaps its the coriander. Or perhaps its the chemistry of distillation where aromatic molecules alike those found in citrus are created. Some species of juniper have limonene in their cones as well—
In describing the flavor of some gins we often use metaphor. While some are obvious, like the tasting note “lemon curd.” We all know there’s no lemon curd in a gin. Other tasting notes often get misinterpreted. One time I reviewed a gin and said there was a strong licorice flavor. The distiller was outraged. “There’s no licorice in here!” But alike when a sommelier might say that a Riesling invokes “stone fruit,” when reviewing a gin I sometimes have to use botanicals that are not present in the gin to describe the impression a gin invokes. The flavor can contain notes of licorice without the gin itself containing licorice.
Hence, it’s an intimation of citrus zest— but not an imitation. I know of very few distillers who use coriander to imitate citrus; however, many will use it in concert because of the way it can amplify citrus, or add fruity floral linalool notes to a gin, or to add a spiciness to draw contrast. Coriander has many purposes in gin; however, at least in my professional experience imitation is not one of them.
I simply love G&T and Tanqueray is delicious and always nails the essence of this refreshing drink. Keep your gin based mixes, why spoil a traditional mothers ruin !