Cocktails and Spirits with Paul Clarke: Old Tom Gin, Part of the Vintage Gin Rebirth

In last Friday's San Francisco Chronicle, spirits writer Camper English dips into the rebirth of classic-style gins. We've recently noted the return to the U.S. market of Bols Genever, a Dutch-style gin that predates the typical London dry gins found in most bars, but English also covers the debut of another style of gin that's been even harder to find for much of the past century: Old Tom gin.

Hayman's Old Tom Gin began production in the UK in 2007, but only in the past few months has it begun cropping up in American liquor stores and bars.

Immensely popular during much of the 18th and 19th centuries, Old Tom is a lightly sweetened style of gin that shares many of the botanical underpinnings of the familiar London Dry gins, but has the richer, smoother mouth feel of the malty Genever-style gins. Early manifestations of the martini and the Tom Collins were typically made with Old Tom gin, and now bartenders in a growing number of cities are experimenting with Hayman's in classic 19th century cocktails, many with spectacular results.

The gin market continues to grow at a surprising pace, and the arrival of Old Tom gin underscores how vintage styles of the spirit are gaining traction among customers. Have you come across Hayman's or another style of gin worth noting?

About the author: Paul Clarke blogs about cocktails at The Cocktail Chronicles and writes regularly on spirits and cocktails for Imbibe magazine. He lives in Seattle, where he works as a writer and magazine editor.

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