The Tonquin is a limited edition from Tarquin’s featuring Tonka bean & Clementine.
Price: ~ £32
Tarquin’s have produced quite a few special editions over the years, and thankfully they’ve chosen to make them rather unique, so you’ll find no ‘rhubarb & ginger’ here! Instead, they’ve kept their original gin the main focus, merely introducing some additional, usually subtle flavours (obvious exceptions include the much more fruit heavy editions).
The Tonquin is their Tonka bean & Clementine edition (named by smashing the words ‘Tonka’ and ‘Tarquin’ together) which was released towards the end of 2016. (don’t ever say this blog isn’t riding the zeitgeist!).
Taruin’s bottles have always been eye catching with their shape and coloured wax tops, and a few years ago they changed their design to use frosted glass. They also use the same bottle for all their gins, changing the colours of the glass/wax/label (delete as required). Some work better than others, and I’m not the biggest fan of the orange label and matt copper coloured wax of this particular bottle. However I do love the wax tops, and the labels are a lovely shape, with the puffin logo featuring heavily which is really nice (it’s also stamped into the wax on the top of the stopper which is a lovely touch). On the front the label features the name, with the smaller label below displaying the gin character, distiller signature, and batch number, all hand-written. Wrapping round to the back the label gives info on the gin as well as the distillery, and finally the usual legal info.
The bottle itself is frosted glass, with the puffin embossed on the front, and the distillery name & craft on the back. Around the base, a few wavy lines are embossed, adding a nice touch. It’s a nice, tactile bottle and as a collection works really well.
A classic gin aroma rises in greeting, but is quickly caught up with by perfumed tonka bean notes. There’s the earthy bitter tone from the bean, but it’s compensated for with plenty of violet and eventually it’s this that dominates. Hints of citrus swim around the edges, with touches of aromatic spice and a little sweet hit of liquorice, but overall it’s a distinctly earthy, perfumed affair. It’s unusual, but pleasant.
Neat, the violet rushes through, with grapefruit providing a fleshy citrus. Both of these flavours soon fade, with cardamom slowly coating the tongue, along with the tonka bean. The liquid is not as viscous as I expected (something tonka bean is used to enhance) but it’s certainly very smooth. Cardamom remains dominant for me, a touch bitter, with the liquorice present but not adding much sweetness. It’s got a good strong flavour that I’m enjoying, but I’d like to taste more citrus, given it’s heavy presence in the botanicals.
With water, the tonka bean is enhanced, along with the perfumed element of the violet, leaving a slightly odd taste in the mouth. The two feel a touch conflicted now, even a little overloaded. The cardamom remains as the backdrop, along with hints of roots and spice, but overall I don’t think the water enhances the flavour.
Finally, a G&T (3:1 Franklin & Sons Indian Tonic with a slice of orange to garnish). The result is absolutely wonderful! This is how this gin is meant to be drunk! The flavours from the tonka bean explode into life here: chocolate, caramel, and almond all burst forth with a big hit of citrus fruit. It’s an utter transformation, bursting with flavours that all suddenly work together to create something quite different, but delicious.
This is not a neat sipper. It’s made for a G&T, and it makes such a great one that I’m genuinely torn between wanting to try it in other cocktails, and saving it to only drink with tonic. It’s a lesson in not judging a gin before trying it in a G&T (which is definitely something I’m guilty of when I first try things). If you like the sound of tonka bean I’d highly recommend it.
Remove up to one feather if you don’t like violet or tonka bean.
The Tonquin is available (in ever dwindling numbers) online
All reviews are of the author’s personal collection, bought and paid for by the author, unless otherwise stated.