What The Number 10 On A Bottle Of Tanqueray Represents

When you walk into your favorite local dive bar, are the first words (or letters) out of your mouth G&T? Or when you hit a rock show, is a Tom Collins your drink? If you answered "yes" to either of these scenarios, then you already know about the piney, herbal wonder of gin.

Formulaically, gin is vodka flavored with juniper berries, and both spirits are typically made from a neutral fermented grain mash. Gin gets its name from the French word for juniper berries, genièvre. The Dutch later called it genever before it got shortened to "gin" on English shores. Different gin brands are distinguished by their unique formulas, which feature varying aging times and different botanical combinations. Cardamom, anise, fennel, lavender, rowan berries, and caraway are common ingredients. 

Today, we're diving deep into one particular small-batch gin whose formula is a blend of eight lively botanicals. But don't let the eight fool you; we're talking about Tanqueray No. 10. Tanqueray belongs to the class of London dry gins, like Bombay Sapphire and Beefeater. Compared to Old Tom or Genever gins, Tanqueray features an uncomplicated lineup of botanicals that lets the ingredients speak for themselves. This is the type of spirit you're likely to find in a gin martini or a gimlet, and last year, it made our list of the Best Sipping Gins. So, what does the number 10 on the bottle represent, exactly?

Still honoring its history

According to spirits expert John deBary of the Food Network, Tanqueray is imprinted with the number 10 as a nod to its roots: The specific still used to produce these select batches of Tanqueray is imprinted with the number 10. And it's the very same one Tanqueray has been using for 200 years.

Why is the still marked with the number 10? Even the best-placed sources don't seem to know for sure. It's likely that it's related to the still's production, which would've taken place sometime in the 19th century, as founder Charles Tanqueray was born in England in 1810. As these things often go, the number is likely arbitrary, and we've found cause to ascribe meaning to it. 

For example, brand enthusiasts might argue that the number really refers to Tanqueray being a perfect 10/10 product — and President F.D.R. might agree. According to Diageo senior archivist Joanne McKerchar via The Spirits Business, a Tanqueray and tonic was the first drink enjoyed in the White House to commemorate the end of Prohibition.