Liquor Cabinet

Issue No. 87 —

Ransom Old Tom Gin

Today we’re going to explore Ransom Old Tom Gin, a Pre-Prohibition stye gin made by a modern day artisan producer of small batch organic wines and spirits. This gin harkens back to a popular style of gin from the mid 1800’s, an era that gave us the bulk of what we call classic cocktails today. What makes this style Old Tom Gin unique is that it was barrel aged, which probably came about due to transporting the gin over great distances.

This specific Ransom recipe was developed in collaboration with historian, author, and mixologist David Wondrich. Ransom’s website will tell you that the gin’s subtle maltiness is the result of using a base wort of malted barley, combined with an infusion of botanicals in high proof corn spirits. Barrel aged… malted barley… high proof corn spirits… this sounds more like a whiskey than a gin. Here comes the gin bits though. The botanicals I mentioned above are juniper, orange peel, lemon peel, coriander seed, angelica root and cardamom pods. Now we’re starting to see the gin traits making their mark. Finally, the distillation is run through an alambic pot still that preserves the maximum amount of aromatics, flavor and body. Only the “heart of the hearts” (the very best portion of distillate) is retained for this special bottling.

I’ve never experienced anything like it. The sniff test reveals an obvious whiff of juniper along with subtle floral notes and cardamom. At first sip you’ll notice a presence of cardamom. The mid palate reveals floral tones and a hint of citrus that carries through to a malty finish. The overall tasting experience has a smooth roundness from the barrel aging. This is a must have for serious cocktail nerds.

Around $37 a bottle.

Since this gin is based off a recipe from the golden era of classic cocktails naturally it’s going to work in classic cocktails like the Martinez.


Stir all ingredients with ice except for the garnish.

Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Garnish with a lemon twist.

12 Notes on Ransom Old Tom Gin

  1. Your words fill my heart with bliss! I’ll take the plunge & get a bottle. As I’ve already grown fond of Hayman’s Old Tom gin, the Ransom needs to come and hang out. I’ve been wanting to experiment with barrel aging (especially negronis & manhattans) but the Ransom will help the impatient bits of me. Any other cocktails come to mind for its use? I’m thinking it would make an interesting Tom Collins or perhaps swap it for whiskey in an old fashioned?

  2. Catherine, Ransom really turns out a Martinez! You will love it! I’m sure you will want to create lots of new cocktails with the array of wonderful flavors this gin has to offer.

  3. Is this historically accurate or appropriate in a Ramos Gin Fizz? From what I’ve read, it seems as though the original recipe did not call for it, but by 1891, Old Tom Gin was favored for a Tom Collins (which didn’t originally call for it), and so I wondered if the same would hold true for this drink (circa 1888). Any thoughts?

    • Jeremiah came up with the Fizz and this is where the Ramos Gin Fizz most likely comes from. Yes, Genever and Old Tom came before London Dry. Your taste matters. I like London Dry in a Ramos Gin Fizz and Old Tom in a Martinez. Something to play with.

  4. Wow! Excellent Gin. Wifey, who usually hates Gin, actually loved it as well! Thanks for a great site! Whats up with the tequilas!

  5. I have been a single malt purist for some years, both Irish and Scotch. Your notes above help explain why I am enjoying the Old Tom so much. When I purchased it I had no idea it was made from barley. As to cocktails, the most exotic I get is a little home made orange bitters and once a splash of tonic. Like my whiskey, I take it straight, although on the rocks not neat.

    Thanks for the interesting info.

    Another “Old Tom”

  6. Great read. Extremely helpful. Perfect recipe recommendation. Just a lil side note, on your Martinez recipe. I love Carpano, a lot, so I say this as a conservationalist, you could most definitely get away with 3/4 Carpano without sacrificing how great your drink taste. And the little extra water, from the stir will give just a tad bit more chill when served up. I LOVE that cocktail glass too, my favorite style, beautiful shot.

  7. New to the site. It is fantastic. I picked up a bottle of Ransom, thinking the barrel aging was more authentic for the time. The smell and taste makes it my new favorite gin. Bought it to try a good Tom Collins. Now enjoy it seems it has perfected the corpse reviver #2. I will pick up a bottle Haymans Old Tom Gin for Tom Collins. Mainly because the color of Ransom makes the Tom Collins look dingy. Though it tastes fantastic. My other favorite gins…Liberator for Martini’s and Aviation for …well…Aviation’s!

  8. Ransom was the first gin I could enjoy sipping neat, like a single malt. It led the way in the explosion of craft gins and it’s indispensable for 19th century cocktails like the Martinez. It also shines in the Turf Club and Jerry Thomas’s Fancy Cocktail.

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