The Sugar Loaf
65 Cannon Street, London, Greater London, EC4N 5AA 020 7248 8928
I’m Tim Homewood, Tanqueray Brand Ambassador and I want to tell you about something really exciting which is coming to Nicholson's pubs at the end of July…
Towards the end of April I was approached with an idea from Nicholson's. It was an idea to do something which we here at Tanqueray not done before and with people we’d not done something this exciting with before... The proposition was: "Why don’t we age Tanqueray in oak and sell in exclusively during our Gin Festival?” asked Jez Manterfield, Spirits Category Manager for Nicholson’s Pubs. That was kind of all the persuasion I needed.
Fast forward to mid-May and I’m sat in Aberdeen airport at the beginning of this journey. The gin side of things was simple; we were going to use Tanqueray London Dry, the benchmark of top quality London Dry gin, crisp and clean with a rich, oily juniper led flavour – but what we needed were barrels!
Barrels are obviously very important in this process, they are what give aged spirits all their flavour. Imagine Scotch whisky for example… Before it’s spent a number of years in barrels in the Scottish countryside it’s essentially just vodka (don’t tell whisky that!), it’s the barrel that imparts all of the rich and delicious flavours into the spirit. This is what we’re looking for with our Aged Gin, we wanted to soften and refine gin, add some sweet and rich flavours into it without taking too much away from the tasty Tanqueray.
So off we headed to the Speyside Cooperage in the heart of whisky territory. This ginormous facility repairs over 150,000 casks every year and is home to tens of thousands piled up in huge pyramids. It’s a very impressive place and we were ran through the entire process from the casks having their staves repaired, being checked for leaks all the way through to my favourite part – charring. It’s incredible to think that the men working here are using traditional cooperage techniques which have been the same for thousands of years.
Once we understood the process, we were let loose amongst the casks out back. Jez Manterfield and I were like a couple of ornithologists at an aviary! We had a look and smell of some incredible cask; ex Rum, Madeira and Port were all incredible but not quite what we were after. We wanted something more subtle, with rich caramel and vanilla notes to soften and sweeten the gin. So we decided on ex Bourbon whiskey barrels. In the USA, whiskey barrels are only allowed to be used once and then are sent off around the world for other spirits to use and American Oak is a brilliant wood to use for barrels.
We decided to get two heavily charred barrels and them shipped back to London. At the start of June we filled each barrel with 200 litres of Tanuqeray London Dry and played the waiting game. Stay tuned for the next update but look forward to trying some in a Nicholson’s pub towards the end of July as part of the Gin Festival!