Ransom, a boutique distillery and wine negociant, crafts some unique and very interesting spirits at its facility in Sheridan, Oregon, which lies in the McMinnville district of the state’s famous Willamette Valley wine region. Ransom sources organically farmed grapes and sustainably produced grains and botanicals for its products, so it’s unsurprising that these premium ingredients translate into top-quality wines and spirits. The feather in Ransom’s hat is Old Tom Gin, the only remaining example of the style, which was once widely popular in England. Old Tom is distilled in traditional alembic pot stills from two-row barley (an English variety) and corn, and it is infused with a number of exotic botanicals, including citrus peel and coriander. The gin spends three to six months in oak barrels prior to bottling.
The nose is intense, showing hot cinnamon, spicy ginger, lemon peel, ginger snap cookie, and faint hints of malt. The palate is sweet cinnamon up front, with ginger and spice emerging toward the mid-palate. The sweetness fades toward the finish, which is dry, lightly astringent, and unmistakably reminiscent of Big Red cinnamon gum.
Although Old Tom is flavored with juniper berries and other traditional gin botanicals, it stands in its own category. The layers of spice, along with the interplay between sweet and dry aromas and flavors, plus the light astringency from barrel-aging really elevate this gin to something special. This gin deserves to be sipped from a snifter, neat, with a single rock or as the foundational ingredient of a classic cocktail–the Martinez.
The origins of the Martinez remain shrouded in mystery, but, like the Martini, it became popular in pre-Prohibition nightclubs and was considered to be a classy and delicious libation. Some people speculate that the Martinez might even have been the predecessor to the Martini. At any rate, now that Old Tom-style gin is widely available again, the Martinez deserves to reclaim its place at the top tier of classic American cocktails.
– 2oz Ransom Old Tom Gin
– ¾ oz sweet vermouth
– ¼ oz maraschino liqueur
– 1 dash Angostura bitters
– 1 lemon twist for garnish
Stir or shake with ice and strain into a cocktail (martini) glass. Twist lemon peel over glass and garnish cocktail with it.