I am a big fan of the standard edition Tanqueray London dry gin — I mean, there’s a reason it was (reportedly) the first spirit served in the White House following the end of prohibition. So of course I was excited to get my hands on their slightly more exotic Rangpur Lime Distilled Gin and give it a shot.
Charles Tanqueray was born in 1810 to a third generation member of the clergy in Bedfordshire, England. But at the age of twenty, he decided that the church wasn’t really his scene and started experimenting with spirits production instead, making the first run of what would become his famous gin in 1830. He and his brother Edward learned about the spirits business at the Curries Distillery and, less than a decade after striking out, they had established a retail outlet named Edward & Charles Tanqueray & Co on Vine Street in London.
Edward did not live long enough to see the business take off, but Charles continued alone and eventually hit on a winning flavor combination for their gin by using just four ingredients: juniper, angelica root, liquorice and coriander seeds. Charles subsequently died in 1865 leaving the business to his son, who decided to merge with Alexander Gordon & Co (another gin producer) to better compete with the wave of gin distilleries popping up all over London. The two companies split their focus: Gordon’s Gin aimed at domestic tastes in London, and Tanqueray focused on the export market (specifically, the United States).
Business was great, with prohibition barely being a stumbling block for the brand. When prohibition ended in the United States, reportedly the first legal cocktail served in the White House was a Tanqueray gin and tonic. The distillery would be bombed into near destruction (with only one still surviving) during World War II, but the company re-built bigger and better on the same site. Even that wasn’t enough, however, and in 1995 the company relocated to Scotland.
At some point over the years, the company was acquired by the British sprits giant Diageo, who maintains ownership of the brand to this day.
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The folks at Tanqueray don’t make their own base spirit, and instead use a wheat-based neutral spirit made by the same distillery (and reportedly from the same source spirit) as Smirnoff vodka. Once that spirit arrives at their facility, they directly add to the liquid the same four botanical components that have been used since the 1830’s: juniper, angelica root, liquorice and coriander seeds.
For this Rangpur Lime edition, though, there are three additional components added to the mix: bay leaves, ginger, and something called a “Rangpur Lime” (which isn’t actually a lime but instead a hybrid citrus fruit made by combining a mandarin orange and a citron).
It’s at this point that the Tanqueray process diverges from the traditional gin distilleries. Some folks believe that leaving the botanicals to rest in the spirit over a longer period of time will improve the flavor. The folks at Tanqueray don’t agree and immediately add water and begin re-distilling the spirit into gin in their copper pot stills. Tanqueray also uses a one-shot distilling method in which all of the components are distilled together, rather than individually distilling each ingredient and blending together later.
Once the gin has been re-distilled, it is proofed down and shipped out the door.
The bottle is shaped like a cobbler-style cocktail shaker, with a cup shaped bottom section and a distinctive cap. It’s an interesting nod to the idea that this is something that should be mixed into a cocktail. The bottle also sports a bright red wax seal on the front for some contrasting colors, and a green colored metal screw-on cap.
I like that, with this version of their gin, the folks at Tanqueray went with the clear glass. Their normal bottle sports a green colored glass bottle which is stylish and interesting, but in this case I feel like it might have been a bit confusing and offputting for folks. With a standard gin you expect it to be crystal clear, but with this variant there might be a question about whether it was actually colored green in addition to the lime flavor. The clear glass removes all doubt.
The label has also gotten a bit of a redesign, with some Indian inspired designs around the edges and an illustration of a Rangpur lime on the sticker. It is a tasteful and well designed way to pay homage to the origin of the ingredients without going overboard.
There’s already a good difference here — in Tanqueray’s standard version, the first aroma I got was a big burst of juniper, but in this version that isn’t the case. I still can smell some pine needles in there, but the predominant components are some clementine orange citrus and ginger front and center. It almost smells like a gin & tonic with a lime wedge.
That clementine orange flavor is the first thing that passes your lips as well and seems to last pretty much the entire length of the flavor profile, laying a good foundation for the other flavors. Immediately following it is a slight burst of bright lime zest and then some pine needles for the juniper. As the flavor develops the ginger root comes into focus and adds some spicy or tangy characteristics to the spirit, and that tangy ginger and clementine combination is what lingers on the finish.
As I continue to sip and deconstruct, the other components start to make themselves visible — there’s some good licorice flavor adding a bit of depth and saturation to the flavor profile, and some coriander seeds adding a spicy kick. But the flavors are all so balanced and perfectly combined that picking them out takes some effort (which I feel is a good thing).
Usually, when we add a bit of ice the flavors take a nosedive. That’s especially true in spirits like a gin, where the flavors are infused during distillation and tend to be a little bit more delicate than usual. In this case, fortunately for us, I think they have all mostly survived — with one notable change.
It feels like, with the added ice, there’s a touch of bitterness that has crept into the mix. I feel like it’s either the Rangpur lime or the ginger root being a little too loud, and the licorice has been attenuated to the point where it just can’t balance things out that well anymore. Otherwise the flavors are all still on point and delicious, just with that one caveat.
Fizz (Tom Collins)
This came out more tropical and fruity than I anticipated, and I love it.
As you might expect from the previous tests, there’s a ton of citrus in this spirit and the good news is that the clementine and the lime in the spirit do a great job mixing with the lemon juice in this cocktail. The result is something much more tropical than I had anticipated, but I’m not complaining in the least.
Taken in a gin & tonic, I could see this being pretty close to perfect even before you even add in the lime wedge. There’s plenty of citrus flavor in the spirit itself and I’m a huge fan.
The Negroni is a tough challenge, which is why we like to use it for our reviews. There’s a ton of bold and bitter flavor in the Campari, and barely enough vermouth in there to try and keep things from spiraling out of control. It’s the cocktail equivalent of being a puny human in the middle of a Godzilla vs. Kong fight and trying to make any kind of a difference.
Which is why it’s so surprising that this gin actually does a fantastic job not only making an appearance, but actually bringing something delicious to the table.
The biggest component that stands out here is (surprise, surprise) the citrus. That lime flavor is clear and present among the battling giants otherwise known as Campari and vermouth. It is accompanied by some of that ginger, adding a bright and cheerful component to an otherwise dark and bitter cocktail. The impact is remarkable — I usually hate a negroni, but I don’t dislike this.
This might be the best tasting gin I’ve ever had neat. I’m a big fan of the flavors they are bringing here, with some excellent saturation and perfect blending between the various components. Even more remarkably, those flavors translate well into the cocktails too, and as a result what we have is something that is versatile and delicious at a downright reasonable price.
This reminds me a lot of the Waterloo Yaupon Gin, and I think I like it for the same reason — the added citrus flavors are complimentary, interesting, and delicious. Definitely worth picking up a bottle and keeping it on the shelf.
|Tanqueray Rangpur Lime Distilled Gin|
Aging: No Age Statement (NAS)
Proof: 41.3% ABV
Price: $22.49 / 750 ml
Product Website: Product Website
Overall Rating: 5/5
A citrus-forward gin with clementine, lemon, lime, and licorice flavors all making for a delicious profile that works in just about any preparation.