By Michael W. Harris
Type: “New Western” Style
Botanicals: “uncommon bltanicals”
Base: Grain Neutral Spirit
Distilling Notes: None
During my Christmas 2017 travels, I picked up three bottles of gin: Starlight 1794 by Huber’s in Indiana, North Shore No. 11 from Chicago, and the Tom’s Town under consideration today. Unfortunately, I’ve already finished the other two bottles, but as it turns out I saved the best for last. Tom’s Town is a Kansas City distillery (hometown represent!), whose spirits are inspired by the figures of the old Pendergast political machine. The same Tom Pendergast who, during Prohibition essentially said, “yeah…no. We’re not going to do that,” helping to fuel the KC jaz night life. The same Tom Pendergast who propelled the career of a young businessman and law school dropout that would eventually led him to being called President Harry S. Truman.
The namesake McElroy was a city manager who did not enforce Prohibition, making Kansas City an “open city” during the era. It was an interesting time in KC history, one that is intricately wrapped up in the city’s legacy of jazz, Negro Leagues baseball, BBQ, and so much more. And the bottle’s Art Deco inspired labels reflect the era’s aesthetic.
N.B.: In between starting this review and posting it, it appears that Tom’s Town has revamped their line and Corruption is no longer available. I’m guessing, however, that the “Botanical Gin” listed is similar, if not the same, as the Corruption Gin.
So, enough with the history lesson. How does it taste? Very good, indeed.
Right away, Tom’s Town presents a complex nose that is hard to pin down. It is spicy and citrusy, with the dominant scent changing as you sniff. The spicier tones come out more once you taste it, though. Tom’s does not list the botanicals on the bottle, they simply say “uncommon” botanicals (though the notes for the Botanical Gin lists “baking spices”), but if I had to guess there is sage and various roots (orris and angelica maybe?) along with the juniper. My palate is not refined enough to guess. However, the profile is not dissimilar to the American gins I have had—and is even reminiscent of the Gunpowder, minus the tea.
While the gin is a bit mellow on the front end, the spice comes even more forward towards the end. It kicks into high gear and the burn intensifies. But overall it is a nice gin to drink straight. It is a bit like if Beefeater and Wilder had a baby. The citrus and sweeter notes are subdued to allow for other flavors to come to the fore. A good start on a Sunday (10/7) while watching Karl Urban play Judge “I am the Law” Dredd.
Gin and Tonic
Following up the Gunpowder & Tonic was always going to be a hard job, but the Corruption was up to the task, if not quite able to surpass it. It is spicy, smooth, and tangy. Truly everything meshed well into a very tasty drink as I watched more of the adventures of Sheriff Jack Carter in Eureka (10/11). Along with being tasty, it was also very smooth on the back end, with almost no aftertaste. It would be very easy (and dangerous) to drink it too quickly, pour another, and be drunk in very short order (remember, I mix my gn’t in a 1:1 ratio).
Again, this reminds me a lot of Beefeater in this way. It drinks quickly, though with a different flavor. An American Beefeater? They do describe the gin as a “New Western” style. Unfortunately, though, the Beefeater comparisons continue on into the Pink Gin…
Readers know by now that Pink Gin has never been my favorite, and while the Corruption Pink was not as bad as my initial Beefeater experience, it was not nearly as good as the Gunpowder revelation. In this case, the bitters, I think, masked the best part of the gin instead of highlighting them. Maybe using fewer bitters would help, but all I could think about while watching old episodes of Robotech (10/12) for a book chapter, was how good the Gunpowder Pink was.
And the finish of this drink was the worst part. All burn and bitters. It was quite unpleasant, really. Definitely not recommended.
Tom’s Town Corruption Gin is a very nice gin. Both straight and with tonic are very good, and I will certainly enjoy finishing the bottle while mixing solely gin and tonics. However, the unpleasant taste of the pink gin lingers, and while I want to award Corruption Gin a top shelf ranking, I say it is a Middle Shelf spirit in the end. But, with a bit of Pendergast style political wheeling and dealing, maybe I could change my mind? Because, in the end, as Boss Tom supposedly said, “The people are thirsty.”