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What is an Old Tom Gin?

Updated: Dec 7, 2023

An Old Tom or True English Old Tom Gin is a classic Victorian gin of the 19th century and pre-dates the London Dry gin.

The City of London
The City of London

An Old Tom was originally a British bathtub gin that was sweeter and had a richer botanical aroma and taste to mask the poor taste and impurities of the poor-quality alcohol made at home in London.

Old Tom's gin was initially sold in pubs until the government of the time introduced taxes against gin. The response is believed to have been the installation of wooden plaques of a black cat called “Old Tom” mounted outside where a coin could be inserted and the paw of the cat could be pulled down to dispense a shot of Old Tom gin straight into their mouth or tankard.

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