Tropical Old Tom from Porter’s Gin:
It’s hard to remember that only a few years ago if you asked for a G&T in a bar or pub your choices were likely to be limited to Beefeater, Gordon’s or Bombay Sapphire. But in recent years the market has changed enormously with hundreds of new distilleries opening, and existing ones expanding their ranges. Standing out from the crowd amongst the competition is a tough task, but Porter’s Gin has managed to achieve that, not least through their fan base of high-end bartenders.
Aberdeen doesn’t seem like the most obvious choice of location, and in fact, rather appropriately the distillery is situated in the basement of Orchid cocktail bar. The team behind Porter’s Gin is led by 2018 UK bartender of the year Alex Lawrence with 2 other industry stalwarts, Ben Iravani and Josh Rennie. The home of Porter’s Gin is perhaps Scotland’s most innovative distillery. Despite making the Tropical ‘Old’ Tom, there is nothing old fashioned about their set-up. They use cutting edge equipment including a unique low-temperature still. This, as well as a rather unusual set of botanicals (I’d never have guessed that the rather eerie looking Buddha’s Hand is an ingredient), give the gins a modern and fresh flavour profile.
Tropical Old Tom, starts with classic juniper base lifted by exotic notes of passion fruit, guava and white tea. Remaining true to the Old Tom style of gin, a traditional recipe which was popular in the 18th and 19th Centuries, Porter’s have combined sweetened gin with enticing botanicals to create a perfectly balanced and sophisticated gin.
If you are wondering where the name ‘Old Tom’ originates, it was supposedly a reference to the wooden plaques shaped like a black cat (an “Old Tom”) mounted on the outside wall of some pubs above a public walkway in 18th-century England. At that time, the British government was trying to curtail excessive gin consumption and some pubs developed an innovative way of delivering their wares. Under the cat’s paw sign was a slot to put money in and a lead tube. From the tube would come a shot of gin, poured by the bartender inside the pub. Thankfully, we can now enjoy our gin in proper glasses!
We were fortunate to be invited to a pop-up bar a few weeks back where 5 top bartenders had been given free-range to create a cocktail to match the delightful food created by Andrew Sutton. The one thing that the cocktails all had in common was Porter’s Gins. Their brief meant that they could use either Porter’s Gin or Porter’s Tropical Old Tom Gin. It was fun to hear where they’d got their inspiration from and even more fun to taste their creations. Andrew is due to open a bar in London near Liverpool Street called ‘No Idea’ it’s certainly somewhere that we’re hoping to visit when it opens.
I’m strictly an amateur home bartender but inspired by the start of spring although it’s not yet tropical weather, I made a couple of cocktails with the Porter’s Old Tom Tropical Gin. I started with a simple Martini, sipping one of these automatically makes me feel sophisticated and glamorous.
A classic Martini
- 50 ml Porter's Old Tom Tropical Gin
- 15 ml Noilly Prat or another Dry Vermouth
- 1 Lemon peel garnish
Mix the Porter's Old Tom Tropical Gin and the Vermouth. Strain through ice.
Serve in a martini glass with a twist of lemon.
I then made the longer Tropical Gin Mule, with the sourness of the lime and the warmth of the ginger this was rather easy to drink!
A longer cocktail, perfect for a summer evening.
- 50 ml Porter's Tropical Old Tom
- 25 ml Freshly squeezed lime juice
- 10 ml Ginger syrup
- 7.5 ml Gomme I used a sugar syrup
- 50 ml Ginger ale
Add gin, lime juice, ginger syrup and the gomme to a cocktail shaker and shake.
Fill a highball glass with ice.
Double strain the mixture into the glass, and top with the ginger ale. Garnish with a slice of ginger or a wedge of lime and a sprig of mint.
Porter’s Martini was a drink that I’d describe as elegant while the Tropical Gin mule was a long drink that would be fantastic on a warm summer’s evening.
I was very impressed with this lovely gin. I’m intending to re-visit Scotland next year, and I think a detour to Aberdeen could be on the cards.
The Porter’s Gin website is currently being rebuilt but you can find them on social media
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