It’s been nearly 14 years since Tanqueray first launched Tanqueray No. Ten Gin. In that time, Tanqueray Ten has become just as recognizable as Tanqueray’s London Dry Gin. Tanqueray Ten is considered by many to be an ideal martini gin, and it’s a frequent ingredient in many key gin cocktails at craft cocktail bars around the world. While there’s no need to change anything inside the bottle, Tanqueray has decided to update the Tanqueray Ten packaging, ditching the tall thin ridged bottle for a shorter, squatter bottle which is more in line with the classic Tanqueray shaker-style bottle. The new bottle also has a dimple ridged base which looks a lot like a juicer, which is no surprise as Tanqueray 10 is defined by the use of fresh citrus.
At Drink Spirits we tend to cover many new releases, and unfortunately that means that some of the great classic spirits don’t have coverage. We felt the re-launch of Tanqueray Ten was a perfect opportunity to revisit both Tanqueray London Dry Gin and Tanqueray No. Ten Gin, discuss what makes them unique, and why you’d ask for one over the other.
Tanqueray London Dry Gin (47.3% ABV / 94.6 Proof) – there are few gins whose flavor profile are as juniper focused as Tanqueray London Dry Gin. One of the core reasons for this juniper focus comes from the recipe of just four botanicals: juniper, coriander, angelica root, and licorice. Four botanicals may not seem like a lot, but when handled right, juniper on its own has an ability to deliver flavors and character far beyond pine or Christmas tree. Juniper can impart floral, citrus, and even black pepper spice notes to the mix without the support of any of the other botanicals. Part of what makes Tanqueray so great is how it uses the juniper along with just the right level of a few other botanicals to make a gin that’s extraordinarily flavorful and complex.
Since Tanqueray is one of the iconic London Dry Gins, it’s no surprise that the first aroma from the glass is indeed juniper, but it’s not just pine. Also at the front of the nose are light lime and pine flowers. Even though the juniper is pronounced in Tanqueray, it’s not the only aroma coming from the glass. The juniper medley is supported by a layer of spice including black pepper, licorice, and angelica root mixed with the coriander. With every botanical in the mix represented in the nose, it’s clear that this gin was created out of a meticulous focus to make each and every ingredient count. Another wonderful element in the nose is a touch of sweet wheat grain which runs as a very subtle undercurrent in the nose. The entry for Tanqueray London Dry Gin is bursting with flavor but absolutely not assaultive. Right out of the gate the juniper pine note from the nose is there on the palate along with light citrus, black pepper, and coriander.
It’s in the midpalate where the more rooty elements in the gin emerge with angelica root and licorice, and we really get a sense of the level of alcohol. It’s really the midpalate of Tanqueray London Dry Gin which makes it one of the best gins you can use in a gin and tonic. The structure that’s created between the spice and the spirit is unparalleled in the gin space, with flavor that is nothing short of perfection. Like the nose, the midpalate of Tanqueray has each and every botanical accounted for. Surprisingly, there’s also a sense of underlining sweetness in the midpalate. It’s subtle, but it’s there, and it emanates not only from the base grain spirit, but also from the licorice root.
The finish for Tanquery London Dry Gin is long, dry, and perfectly balanced. Lingering on the palate are the juniper, coriander, and black pepper spice notes as well as a subtle kiss from the sweet grain. While we don’t score spirits here on Drink Spirits, Tanqueray London Dry Gin is one of the very few spirits we believe could earn a perfect score. There’s simply nothing that could be done to make this a better gin – it’s as good as gin gets and is one of the great spirits of the world.
Tanqueray No. Ten Gin (47.3% ABV / 94.6 Proof) – in 2000, on the heels of releasing Tanqueray Malacca Gin, Tanqueray released Tanqueray No. Ten Gin. Both of these releases were aimed at a new movement in gin, loosely referred to as New Western Style Gin, that shifted the focus slightly away from juniper to spotlight what other botanicals in gin can bring to the mix. Part of this movement came as a reaction to a new generation of drinkers who had grown up with a distaste for the strong juniper in gin, and another was as a response to the incubatory phase of the now explosive craft cocktail revolution.
Tanqueray No. Ten Gin gets its name from being made in Tanqueray’s number ten still, also affectionately referred to as “Tiny Ten”. This small still was used as an experimental/trial run still at the distillery before becoming the key still for Tanqueray 10. There is a misconception that Tanqueray 10 gets its name from the number of botanicals in the mix; in fact, the recipe for Tanqueray 10 has all four of the base botanicals from Tanqueray London Dry: juniper, coriander, angelica, and licorice. Tanqueray 10 adds an additional four elements to the mix, including fresh white grapefruit, fresh lime, fresh orange, and camomile flowers for a total of 8 botanicals. One of the things which makes Tanqueray 10 unique is that it uses fresh whole citrus rather than dried citrus peels. Dried peels are used for the majority of gins on the market and very few actually use fresh fruit.
The nose of Tanqueray 10 reflects the abundance of fresh fruit, and while juniper is still a lead note, it’s joined by lime and grapefruit which act like co-stars in the equation. Under the citrus are some of the same botanicals as with Tanqueray London Dry Gin including coriander, black pepper, and angelica root. Ultimately it’s the lime that seems to be most persistent in the glass. That lime is also the star of the entry which combines fresh lime and fresh grapefruit along with juniper and angelica root. The angelica root is as pronounced at the entry as the juniper, giving the entry a slightly nutty, rooty, spicy quality. This root spice combined with the piney juniper become the core of the midpalate, which has a much warmer spice quality to it than Tanqueray London Dry Gin. It’s here where the influence of the camomile flowers is most apparent with a slightly bitter floral spice which combines with the coriander, licorice, and a black pepper note from the juniper. Tanqueray 10 Gin has the same subtle sweet note from the grain in the midpalate, which lends a sweet quality to the citrus as well as makes the angelica root come off more sweet and warm than earthy. The finish is long and spicy with juniper, black pepper, and lime lingering on the palate.
With strong citrus aromatics and a core of warm spice, Tanqueray 10 is suited to a very different range of cocktails than the traditional Tanqueray London Dry Gin. While Tanqueray London Dry Gin is our go-to gin for a gin and tonic or Negroni, Tanqueray 10 works much better in cocktails like the Aviation, the Southside, and the Gin Rickey. With its fresh citrus core, Tanqueray Ten is often our gin of choice in citrus-focused cocktails, and it’s considered by many to be one of the best gins for the martini.
Tanqueray London Dry Gin and Tanqueray No. Ten Gin share many key elements of style, but they are unique spirits. Tanqueray London Dry Gin is all about how just a few botanicals can come together around juniper to make a complex and flavorful gin, while Tanqueray No. Ten Gin is about presenting a wider palate of flavors to build on for cocktails. The difference between Tanqueray London Dry Gin and Tanqueray 10 is like the difference between a wrench and pliers – they both can perform similar tasks, but they are ultimately different tools.