Tanqueray is a name synonymous with the aromatic botanicals of juniper, licorice, coriander, and angelica; in other words, gin. The company, which began in 1830 as the Bloomsbury Distillery in London, currently produces three varieties of the spirit: Tanqueray London Dry Gin, Tanqueray No. Ten and Tanqueray Rangpur. Interestingly enough, the company also produces several varieties of their gin products that vary the alcohol content, yet these are only available in certain countries.
The discussion for today, however, is not about gin. It is about Tanqueray’s much-less touted cousin of gin, Tanqueray Sterling Vodka. Sadly, the company feels so strongly about its gin product that it doesn’t even make mention of their vodka on the website. It’s a rather unfortunate oversight or omission as Tanqueray does make quite a good vodka, and it simply boggles the mind that a company would simply neglect the potential for making inroads to a new market. Nevertheless, there is work to be done, so done it shall be.
The first thing one notices about Tanqueray Sterling is the contrasting style of the bottle when compared to its gin counterparts. Sterling does away with Tanqueray’s signature green glass in order to properly display the crystal-clarity of the vodka. In every other aspect, however, the glass bottle itself remains the same. The medallion attached to the neck of the bottle is silver instead of red, and the front-facing label features a very lightweight and modern sans-serif typeface for the Sterling logo.
As a shooting vodka, Sterling does a fine job cleansing the palate and leaves very little in the way of an aftertaste. The spirit smells clean, with subtle hints of crushed black pepper and not much else. The mouthfeel is light and crisp, and gives way to a flavor that can only be described as both hot and brief. On the rocks, and with a twist of lemon, Sterling might make a fine aperitif. When applied to the martini, however, Sterling doesn’t quite hold up its end of the bargain, and leaves the taster looking for a missing piece of the puzzle. If one were to dwell long enough on the issue, one would find that the missing ingredient in a Sterling martini is a generous dash of olive brine.
The fact that Sterling is such a neutral spirit might be the reason Tanqueray doesn’t choose to give it much of the spotlight, however, one should not let that fact spoil what is otherwise a fine spirit.