Review: Gin Lane 1751 ‘Old Tom’ Gin and ‘Victoria’ Pink Gin

Gin Lane 1751 produces four varieties of gin, all pot-distilled in London, but spanning a range of styles. Some info:

Gin Lane 1751 has been created by Charles Maxwell of Thames Distillers, an eighth generation distiller, and The Bloomsbury Club – a group of gin lovers and drinks industry professionals. Its name signifies an important historical landmark on the gin timeline; the Gin Act of 1751, which was in part brought about by artist William Hogarth’s iconic depiction of Gin Lane. The act banned the sale of gin in prisons, the workhouse and any shops selling everyday staples. Distillers were unable to sell gin direct and publicans were no longer able to issue credit. Gin became less readily available and more expensive with quality improving significantly; by Victorian times it had become a drink of respectability.  Each bottle has been individually numbered and the gins are handcrafted in small traditional pot stills. There are eight natural botanicals – juniper, orris root, Seville oranges, angelica, Sicilian lemon, star anise, cassia bark and coriander – to create a well-balanced, complex gin.

Only eight botanicals? A bit unusual but not unheard of. Notably, no lemon peel comes into play in 1751’s recipe.

Today we look at two of Gin Lane’s offerings — an Old Tom and a Victoria Pink variation. The London Dry gin and a navy strength version weren’t received… so we’ll save those for another day. Meanwhile, have a peek at these two:

Gin Lane 1751 ‘Old Tom’ Gin – This is basically the standard recipe, but offers an increase in the star anise plus a touch of refined sugar. The results are less in line with what I think of as a traditional Old Tom style and closer to a western dry style of gin, lightly sweet but with a relatively traditional nose of juniper and citrus, slightly dusty with earthy notes. On the palate the gin’s light sugar touch takes those somewhat bitter elements and tempers them a bit — and filtered through the star anise, the licorice notes become brighter, and somewhat more candylike than the nose would indicate. The finish is lightly sweet — again, a nod more to the west rather than the cat — with hints of raspberry, mint, and a bit of hospital-note astringency. Quite well balanced. 80 proof. A-

Gin Lane 1751 ‘Victoria’ Pink Gin – Pink gin is pink due to the addition of bitters (here, spiced bitters). Here that bitterness is less evident on the nose — which is similar to the Old Tom in most respects, sans the sugar — than it is on the palate. The bitters hit first, though quite lightly, layering notes of cloves and sassafras atop a body that comes across with more citrus than the Old Tom, plus a significant level of earthiness and a touch of baking spice. This is a pink gin that could probably benefit from a healthier dosing of bitters, but given that the base spirit is pretty good to begin with, it’s hard to complain too much. 80 proof. B+

each $25 / ginlane1751.com

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