Brush up on your gin knowledge with this insider’s view of the industry…

With 42 years of experience in distilling, Tom Nichol is a walking encyclopaedia on the subject of spirits and on TANQUERAY™ London Dry Gin in particular.

His years of service as Tanqueray Master Distiller are testament to his powerfulinsights into this hugely popular gin.

We caught up with Tom to ask him the questions that you wanted answered. He covered everything from the perfect gin, to top secret developments to the best gin cocktails out there.

So if you want some top tips to brush up on your gin knowledge or if you’re just looking for ‘gin-spiration’ then kick back and have a read…

The Gin

First, what’s special about Tanqueray?

It’s an absolute classic first and foremost!

The essence of the Tanqueray brand was laid down over 170 years ago when Charles Tanqueray, descended from three generations of clergymen, chose not to follow the family calling and instead opened a distillery in Bloomsbury, London. Charles' refusal to accept the status quo meant that he spent many years testing the finest botanicals from around the world.

Today Tanqueray gin continues Charles Tanqueray's legacy of excellence – it’s a dry, crisp gin with a rich juniper flavour that makes the most refreshing tasting gin and tonics and the driest of martini cocktails.

The Man

How long have you been a distiller and how did you get into this career?

I’ve been in the distilling industry for almost 42 years and during that time I have done almost every job you can think of in a distillery.

The actual distilling part began about twelve years ago, making new make whisky and then neutral spirit, before moving on to making gin and vodka.

I got into the distilling business via my father. As the saying goes, ‘like father, like son’ - I followed in his footsteps after he worked at a distillery for over 28 years.

Are you travelling the world a lot? Have you got any good bar recommendations?

I do tend to travel a fair bit around the world. If you’re trying to track me down you’ll mostly find me in America, more recently the Nordics and now closer to home in London.

I have lots of recommendations for good bars, but to name a few, I can suggest ‘Please Don’t Tell’ and ‘The Dead Rabbit’, both in New York. In London, I would highly recommend the American bar at The Savoy and the Artesian at the Langham.

My favourite dive bar is the Chart Room in New Orleans - I'm sure they won’t mind me calling it a dive bar, but I love it!

The Future

Gin’s popularity is booming – have you any plans to develop any new Tanqueray blends?

It’s booming indeed! Although at Tanqueray we already have a fantastic portfolio - we do, on occasion, bring a new gin to the market. I am working on something very special at the moment, but the details are top secret!

It takes a massive amount of time to get things right before we would consider adding something new to the Tanqueray name. If it's not right we have to rethink and start all over again.

How much time is spent on innovation for the brand?

Innovation is always on our minds but consistency is our first priority. We do try new things but it's very hard to try to find a balance between different botanicals.

The brand foundations were laid down way back in 1830 and I believe our responsibility today is to ensure that Tanqueray carries on that legacy of excellence.

The Gin Cocktail

What was your inspiration behind the Tanqueray Old Tom Gin?

Tanqueray Old Tom is one of my favourites! At Tanqueray we decided to make limited edition gins and it was the choice of bartenders to recreate an Old Tom.

After a trip to the archives to look through Charles Tanqueray's recipe book I found a very old recipe which could be used to create a gin for modern day tastes but remained faithful to the original recipe - if that’s not enough inspiration to create a new blend I don’t know what is...

In your opinion what's the perfect serve for the Tanqueray Rangpur Gin?

I like Tanqueray Rangpur G&T served in a Copa glass with plenty of ice and the appropriate measure of gin, tonic water and, as with all my gin and tonics, a wedge of lime.

Although Rangpur is very much a lime gin, I still like to get that initial burst of lime as I take my first sip.

What cocktail would best suit Tanqueray Malacca? Tell us what your desert island botanical is?

I must admit, I tend to like Malacca on its own. I leave the mixing of cocktails to bartenders… you guys are the experts!

My desert island botanical would have to be Angelica.

What’s your personal favourite garnish in your T&T?

My personal favourite is always a wedge of lime. To my mind, you can’t beat it!

But don’t let that put you off innovating and looking for new ways to help people enjoy Tanqueray.

The Bartender

What is the main benefit for bar owners when it comes to selecting the best gins for their menu?

I would say that quality always has to shine through. Choosing a gin which is a bit cheaper but of lower quality, to me, is a false economy.

The discerning taste of today's consumers demands a quality product. And for many people who have said that they don't like gin, they’ve probably had a bad experience with an inferior product to begin with.

What would you say is the ideal starter to convert someone to gin?

I think the ideal way to introduce somebody to gin would be simply a Tanqueray diluted to the perfect strength with a quality tonic water and good quality ice served up by an excellent bartender.

A good bartender can make all the difference to a person’s experience of a drink. My work is in your hands - I’m putting my trust in you!

You can find Tom at the Cameronbridge Gin Distillery and when he’s not there he’s travelling the world, continuing to find ways to improve his world class gin and inspire people to drink it.

The TANQUERAY word and associated logos are trade marks (C) Charles Tanqueray & Co.